3/11/2013 11:25 P.M. ET
Competition shows how far Rays have come
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Illustrating how far the Rays have advanced from Devil Rays days is the competition for the No. 5 starter spot.
Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Niemann, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi -- each of whom could make any Major League rotation -- would all easily have made most any Devil Rays rotation. Instead, just one will be in the Rays' 2013 starting rotation.
"That just shows you how far this organization has come," Niemann said. "Shows you that the model the organization has is so good, because they haven't changed the model of how they do things. ... It's the model that's been built and they've followed it to a T. I can't remember a time since I've been in the big leagues and haven't looked back and said, 'Man, there's like five guys at Triple-A who could be pitching up here.'"
Ramos reflects on 'unbelievable' Classic
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Cesar Ramos returned to camp on Monday after a stint pitching for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, which afforded him a front-row seat to the brawl that took place in the ninth inning of Canada's 10-3 win over Mexico.
The fight began after Canada's Rene Tosoni was hit in the back by a pitch thrown by Mexico's Arnold Leon. Both benches emptied and the action got heated.
"It was pretty scary," Ramos said. "My parents were in the stands, and they were pretty scared just for the players. There were some pretty serious punches being thrown and landed. But luckily everybody was pretty safe after and no one was seriously hurt."
Ramos had already pitched in the game and was working out in the clubhouse when the fracas began.
"I tried to put my uniform on, but it was already in the wash," Ramos said. "I didn't want to be the guy staying inside watching on TV. At least help out my teammates, try to calm things down. By the time I got out there, things had cooled down a little bit."
Mexico was eliminated, which allowed Ramos to return to the West Coast of Florida on Sunday night, all the richer for the experience of playing in the Classic.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable," Ramos said. "The Mexican following was unbelievable. When we were playing the U.S., we were playing on American soil at [Chase Field, home of the D-backs], and there were probably 40,000 [people] there for Mexico. It was cool. It was loud -- all the noisemakers -- and felt like a winter ball game."
Ramos pitched Tuesday in an exhibition game against the D-backs and he made one appearance in the tournament. The left-hander, who looks to be a lock for this year's bullpen, said he got in the work he needed to do while away from the Rays.
"Yeah, it was pretty much the same schedule I would have had here," Ramos said.
Rays send 11 players to Minor League camp
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays' roster was reduced to 51 on Monday afternoon when 11 players were sent to Minor League camp.
Frank De Los Santos, Mike Montgomery, and Alex Colome were optioned to Triple-A Durham. Enny Romero was optioned to Double-A Montgomery, and Felipe Rivero was optioned to Class A Charlotte. Matt Buschmann, Adam Liberatore, Marquis Fleming, Mark Thomas, Nick Weglarz and Shawn O'Malley were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Rays manager Joe Maddon spoke about Mike Montgomery, the 23-year-old left-hander and No. 8 prospect acquired in the trade that sent James Shields to the Rays.
"It's not a surprising situation that he's not ready yet, but it was really good to be on the field with him and have a better understanding about what he needs to do to get better," Maddon said. "And I think we were very specific with him in a meeting right now about what to do.
"You look at things theoretically and you look at data, scouting reports or whatever, but you have to be on the field and talk to the guy to get a really good idea or feel about what's going on. And with him, it became more obvious when we watched him about what we want to do with him moving forward, and I felt good about the advice that we gave him inside."
When talking about the rest of the group, Maddon spoke glowingly about a trio of pitchers, all from the Dominican Republic.
"Colome, you can tell where he needs some work yet," Maddon said. "I really liked what Felipe Rivero did -- I'm a big fan of his, and [of] Enny.
"The thing that really stands out is how well we've done in the Latin American program regarding preparing these guys to be here, period."
Jennings, Scott over minor injuries, contribute in win
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- To this point in camp, the Rays have not incurred any major injuries. And Monday night's lineup card answered questions about a couple of minor injuries.
Desmond Jennings (mild left ankle sprain) was penciled into the leadoff spot and played center field against the Twins, while Luke Scott (tight left hamstring) was used as the designated hitter.
Jennings went 1-for-2 with a run scored, and Scott went 2-for-3 with his first homer of the spring.
"My ankle's fine," Jennings said. "It was just a little tweak, but everything is good now. ... I knew everything was fine from the beginning."
"Right now, I'm just being smart, being careful about it," Scott said. "I'll get a few games under my belt and I'll start testing it again."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Scott is healthy and not limited to DH duty.
"He can play anywhere," Maddon said. "I want to get him on the field as soon as we can for his benefit, too. Now he's moving around really well. He's been throwing well since the beginning of camp. As long as he feels well, we'll put him out there."
Sam Fuld (tight right hamstring) and Tim Beckham (laceration under his right eye) are both expected back by the end of the week.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.