Notes: Friday a big day for many Rays
Kazmir ready for Opening Day; Jackson's confidence on rise
ST. PETERSBURG -- Friday will likely determine the immediate futures of several Devil Rays players.
Manager Joe Maddon said it's likely most of the final cuts will be made before the weekend, as the team needs to cut down from 34 players to 25 by Opening Day.
"We're pretty close," Maddon said. "There's a lot of things that maybe are just kind of on hold right now, but based on the next couple of days, I think we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do."
Maddon prefaced his remarks by saying the final decisions could be altered if there are health issues.
"We discussed a lot of different possibilities," Maddon said. "If these guys are well come Friday, we'll have a pretty good idea in advance of what we have to do."
Among the more interesting decisions will be the fates of second baseman Jorge Cantu and outfielder/designated hitter Jonny Gomes. Both had big seasons in 2005 before struggling with injuries in 2006. B.J. Upton's ability to play the outfield and second base could affect the decision, in addition to the solid play of utility man Brendan Harris, who is out of options. Gomes and Cantu can be optioned to Triple-A Durham without risk of losing them.
Meanwhile, the bullpen is beginning to come into form. Veteran Dan Miceli had a poor spring and could be released, while Seth McClung, who entered camp as the favorite to become the closer, has struggled (11.57 ERA) and is in danger of not making the club.
Right-hander Gary Glover has drawn raves from Maddon this spring, and could grab one of the spots due to his flexibility in being able to pitch long or short stints. Shawn Camp, Ruddy Lugo, Brian Stokes and Al Reyes seem to be locks, which would leave McClung, Chad Orvella, Jae Kuk Ryu and Juan Salas to contend for the final two spots.
Kaz in the opener: Scott Kazmir will be the Rays' Opening Day starter, which is good news for Rays fans after watching their ace sit out most of the second half of the 2006 season with a sore left shoulder. With his shoulder feeling fine all spring, the left-hander's only concern seems to be getting too jazzed up for his start.
"It's going to be a lot of adrenaline going on," Kazmir said. "It's Opening Day, and I haven't been on the mound pitching in a regular-season game in quite a while. I'll just have to harness all that and try to stay within myself."
More on Jack: Much of the difference this spring for newly anointed No. 5 starter Edwin Jackson has been his level of confidence, a new level Maddon believes will help the right-hander endure the tough times.
"Everybody gets their ears pinned back once in a while," Maddon said. "It's how you look when it happens. If you can go through that moment and look as though you can absorb the punishment, that's a good thing. Because it's going to happen -- he's going to get his ears pinned back. I just hope it happens maybe his fifth or sixth start, because then we'll have something good under his belt to that point."
This and that: Dioner's Navarro's 19-month-old son, Dioner Jr., was supposed to have surgery Tuesday to correct problems with his urethra and remaining kidney. That surgery has now been rescheduled for April 23. ... Entering Thursday's action, the Rays had committed just 19 errors, which ranked third in the Major Leagues behind the Mariners and Blue Jays. ... The Rays completed the transaction in which they acquired Harris by sending the Reds an undisclosed amount of cash.
Rays on FSN Florida: FSN Florida will produce and broadcast 75 Devil Rays games in 2007 that will feature Dewayne Staats, Joe Magrane and Todd Kalas back for their 10th seasons in the booth.
Among the improvements this season will be 39 high definition games, which is up 30 games from last season, and incorporating more in-game interactive enhancements (such as microphones on players and coaches and incorporating live in-game player interviews) into the telecasts.
Saturday afternoon's contest against the Mets will be aired at 1 p.m ET. In addition, the Rays' first two games of the season against the Yankees will come to viewers at 1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday.
"The Rays On Deck," a live 30-minute pregame show for analysis and the latest team news, will be televised prior to FSN Florida's game telecasts when the team is on the road and for 15 minutes for home games.
Saturday ducats: The Rays' final exhibition game will be a 1:05 p.m. Saturday contest against the Mets at Tropicana Field. Tickets for the game will be as follows: Kane's Club, $125; Whitney Bank Club, $85; Fieldside Box, Lower Infield Box and Lower Box, $25; Baseline Box and Loge Box, $17; Press Level, $15; and Outfield, $7. The upper deck will be closed.
Up next: The Rays will travel to Sarasota on Friday afternoon for a 1:05 contest against the Reds. Right-hander Jae Seo will make his final start of the spring in a tune-up for his first regular-season start Wednesday against the Yankees. Right-hander Kirk Saarloos will start for Cincinnati.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.