The Rays are on the lookout for a right-handed bat, which would come in the form of either a shortstop or an outfielder, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Their preference is to to land an outfielder who has options and can back up center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, per Topkin, who lists Bryce Brentz, Peter Bourjos, Austin Jackson, Rob Refsnyder and Justin Ruggiano as possibilities. Former Ray Melvin Upton Jr. might be a candidate, too, if the Blue Jays dump him, Topkin writes.
Elsewhere on the Rays front, Jesus Sucre is likely to join the newly signed Derek Norris as one of their two catchers, according to Topkin. Tampa Bay still needs to add Norris and Sucre to its 40-man roster, which means the club could look to trade one of its other backstops, Curt Casali or Luke Maile (probably Casali), relays Topkin.
The latest on two other American League clubs:
- The Twins optioned right-hander Jose Berrios to Triple-A Rochester on Saturday, thus eliminating him from the competition for the final spot in their rotation. The job will go to either Adalberto Mejia or Tyler Duffey, whom Berrios fell behind while he was with Team Puerto Rico for 18 days at the World Baseball Classic. Berrios only threw 6 2/3 innings during that nearly three-week span, which hurt his chances of beginning the season in Minnesota, but he doesn’t regret participating in the tournament. “Playing for Puerto Rico is an honor; it makes me proud,” Berrios told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press through an interpreter. “I know this is my team, it’s my job. This is who drafted me. This is who I’m going to make it with, but you don’t get to play for Puerto Rico every day or every year. That’s not how it is.” The 22-year-old Berrios, who has dominated in the minors, still seems likely to end up in the Twins’ rotation sometime in 2017. If that happens, the former premier prospect will try to bounce back from a rough rookie year in which he posted an 8.02 ERA, 7.56 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 over 58 innings.
- It came as a surprise when the Twins designated DH Byung Ho Park for assignment in February, but he ultimately remained with the organization after clearing waivers. Nearly two months later, he has the inside track on a big league roster spot on account of Kennys Vargas’ less-than-ideal spring, per Berardino. Vargas, who was also with Puerto Rico at the WBC, has gone just 1 for 15 with three walks during the Twins’ exhibition season. His situation worsened when he fouled a ball off his left foot Friday, and is now on crutches. Although initial X-rays were negative, the Twins will send Vargas for further testing, writes Berardino. “If he doesn’t play for a week, it’s going to have an impact,” manager Paul Molitor said of Vargas’ chances of earning a place with the Twins. “He just hasn’t had many at-bats.”
- Righty Jesse Hahn looks like the odd man out in the Athletics’ rotation battle, observes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Judging by the A’s pitching schedule, they appear poised to go with Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara for their final two starting spots, Slusser notes. Hahn was subpar at both the major league and Triple-A levels last season, and he hasn’t bounced back with a decent spring. The 27-year-old has yielded 15 earned runs on 25 hits in 15 1/3 innings.