09/30/08 2:27 PM ET
Rays closing in on playoff roster
Crawford likely to play in ALDS; club mulls decision on Percival
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Brignac has been working out in the instructional league, and executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Monday that the Rays could activate Brignac if they decided they need more depth up the middle.
Brignac spent the majority of the season in Triple-A Durham, and suffered an injury on Aug. 6 when he was struck by a pitch and broke his left wrist. The young infielder played in Monday afternoon's instructional league game at Tropicana Field -- along with Carl Crawford -- and had an RBI single in the fourth inning.
Having a healthy Brignac would be reassuring, considering the Rays are thin in the middle infield. Utility man Ben Zobrist is currently the backup shortstop to starter Jason Bartlett, who remains hampered by the effects of a right knee sprain suffered earlier this year.
As of Monday night, Rays manager Joe Maddon had spoken with a trio of pitchers -- Juan Salas, Jeff Niemann and Mitch Talbot -- to tell them that they would not be with the team during the postseason run. Niemann was also told to keep playing catch in the event that injuries force the club to call on the lanky right-hander.
The Rays are expected to reveal their starting rotation order -- which will feature Scott Kazmir and James Shields in the first two games -- on Tuesday.
While the rest of the Rays' 25-man postseason roster will not be formally announced until Thursday morning, Friedman said the club will likely have conversations with affected players in advance.
One very important conversation involved Crawford, who faced live pitching in Monday's instructional league game for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list (right finger subluxation) Aug. 10, and went 2-for-3 in Tuesday's instructional league game. Crawford is likely to be named to the postseason roster.
A two-time All Star, Crawford has been trying to convince the Rays he's healthy enough to be on the postseason roster.
Right now the Rays are deciding between a roster that includes either 11 pitchers and 14 position players, or 10 pitchers and 15 position players. Friedman said that Crawford's status is "a big part" of that decision.
"We are trying to go through as many scenarios as we can to figure out what we feel like best covers us," Friedman said. "And some of that depends on who the 14 [position players] are proceeding that 15th player."
Crawford was hitting .273 with eight home runs, 10 triples and 57 RBIs at the time of his injury. He also had 25 stolen bases and should be a huge boost to the Rays' outfield defense.
The Rays are also mulling over the decision on closer Troy Percival, and according to Friedman, have not had a full-out conversation involving the veteran pitcher.
Percival has been receiving epidural injections in his back and has been hampered by a slew of injuries (left hamstring strain, right knee cartilage damage) that has put him on the DL three separate times this season. He tossed a scoreless inning on Sunday in Detroit, and although Percival deems himself healthy enough to pitch, that decision will ultimately be up to the Rays.
If the club does opt to include Percival on the roster, it still wouldn't alter the final position-player-pitcher ratio. According to Major League Baseball's ruling, if a pitcher gets hurt in the middle of a series he can be substituted for another pitcher, but that injured pitcher is not eligible for the next round of play.
A four-time AL All-Star, Percival is 2-1 with a 4.53 ERA and 28 saves this season. Since being reinstated from the DL on Sept. 2, however, he has yielded nine runs over 6 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and eight walks.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.