Notes: Bullpen still on call
Maddon will not hesistate to make roster changes
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Despite Seth McClung and Chad Orvella being sent to Triple-A Durham on Friday, Rays skipper Joe Maddon said that doesn't mean the rest of the bullpen should be content.
"This is our bullpen now, but we want to continue to improve," said Maddon. "We talked about the competitive spirit coming into camp and that's what we're doing right now with the guys we have down in the Minors pushing them. Nobody's in a particular spot just because they made the team, the one that's going to be out there on Opening Day."
McClung (0-1 with an 11.57 ERA this spring) had entered Spring Training as a favorite to win the closer role, but he faltered through March as he tried to refine his game and harness his command.
"We look for him to pitch well and to come back at some point," said Maddon. "We talked about open competition at the beginning of spring and that doesn't change because our staff is set."
Orvella compiled a 1-0 record with a 0.87 ERA in 10 1/3 innings of exhibition games, but still Maddon wants the 5-foot-11 right-hander to learn how to pitch with "overall consistency" on consecutive days.
Non-roster invitees Gary Glover and Al Reyes impressed Maddon enough during the spring to make the Opening Day roster, though.
Reyes, 36, who signed with the Rays in March 2006, looked fully recovered from the Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery he had on Oct. 19, 2005, with the 6-foot-1 right-hander going 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA during the spring. More importantly, the 13-year veteran demonstrated his control with six strikeouts and only one walk in 10 innings.
Glover, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander, won his spot on the staff by recording a 1-2 mark with a 2.93 ERA in the spring. Glover, like Reyes, has plenty of experience as well. Last year, he went 5-7 with a 4.97 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's Central League. He last pitched in the Majors in 2005 when he went 5-4 with a 5.57 ERA in 15 games (11 starts) for the Brewers.
"We're very pleased with what we have right now," said Maddon. "But it's not exactly finished. We want to continue to improve, but we felt this was our best bullpen right now for April 2, Opening Day."
Much respect: Carlos Pena, who was reassigned to Minor League camp, said that he would consider playing in Durham if it gave him a chance to play for the Rays.
"I would love to play here," said Pena, who lives year-round in Orlando. "I thought it was the perfect fit. I love the city, the team, the stadium. I have the utmost respect for this staff. This is a place that has a lot to offer."
"All I need is the opportunity," said Pena, who has a .243 career batting average with 229 runs in 507 games. "Time will tell, but I definitely would think about playing [in Durham]."
One day to live: Another day went by and Jonny Gomes, who is competing for one of the final spots on the roster, was still around.
While this camp has been light years different from last year when Gomes secured his spot coming off an impressive 2005 season, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound outfielder has maintained an optimistic attitude.
"It's definitely a different feeling, but it hasn't affected the way I play," said Gomes, who has a .254 batting average with four homers and 11 RBIs in 25 games this spring. "It's good that they brought so much competition in because it doesn't mean you took a few days off. It means you have to go [all] out every time out there."
Last stand: Jae Seo recovered from a rough start in his last spring game and allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings.
All five runs the six-foot right-hander surrendered came in the first inning, when Maddon said Seo had a difficult time gripping the ball in the 80-degree weather.
"He had a tough time in the first, but then he came back nicely," said Maddon. "I wasn't concerned about him. He was hitting his spots."
Seo gave up only one hit after the first and struck out four.
A-OK: Dioner Navarro (left hamstring) played five innings in Friday's game and came away healthy.
Maddon said that Navarro would play five innings against the Mets in the last Spring Training game at Tropicana Field on Saturday.
"If he feels healthy, then he'll be out there," said Maddon.
The Rays skipper said that Navarro would not play all three games when the Rays visit the Yankees to open the season.
Tough to bear: Maddon said making cuts is something that all managers hate to do.
"Emotionally, it's very difficult," said Maddon. "You're not just dealing with the person himself. You're dealing with the person's mom, dad, wife, kids, family. I take it very seriously, and when I sit down to tell someone this, it's very difficult."
This and that: Brendan Harris logged his first game of the spring at first base after having played 67 innings at short, 31 at second, 29 at third and four in left-field. ... The relief corps of Reyes, Shawn Camp and Glover combined to pitch four scoreless innings, issuing only four hits. ... Gomes, who went 1-for-2 in Friday's game, stole his second base of the season. ... Aki Iwamura went 2-for-3 to raise his spring batting average to .200. ... B.J. Upton played center field and made a spectacular sliding catch in the seventh inning that prevented a run from scoring.
Up next: The Rays finish their exhibition schedule when they host the New York Mets in a 1:05 p.m. ET affair at Tropicana Field on Saturday. Right-hander James Shields (1-2, 2.96 ERA) makes his seventh start of the spring when he faces Mets rookie right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.