Spring Training Notes: Injury Opens Door for Relievers, Minor Leaguers Get Rare Opportunity

Rays closer Brad Boxberger hit the disabled list on Friday, March 18, and could be out 8 weeks due to core muscle surgery (torn adductor brevis muscle in groin area). Manager Kevin Cash wouldn’t name a replacement closer, instead saying he will play the matchups. Cash named Alex Colome, Xavier Cedeno, Danny Farquhar, Steve Geltz and Ryan Webb as potential options. Rays President Matthew Silverman said the team will also look at external options, if not for a closer, then for added depth. The Tampa Tribune’s Roger Mooney had this take on the closer situation.



Expect plenty of Durham Bulls relievers to be splitting time between Triple-A and the MLB as long as Boxberger is out. Here is DRaysBay’s take on the closer situation.

Dayron Varona garnered plenty of attention as the first Cuban defector to return to his home country and play against the national team. He popped out on the first pitch of the game and went 0 for 2, but was reunited with his family for the first time in three years.

The Rays’ players were all given white roses to hold as they lined the field for the national anthems in Cuba. 2015 Durham Bulls infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter organized a group of players to give their roses to First Lady Michelle Obama, who was seated in the front row with her family and Cuban President Raul Castro. The line of Rays players giving her flowers then shook President Barack Obama’s hand through the netting before returning to the dugout.

The Rays’ jet was delayed returning from Cuba that night, and the team didn’t arrive back in the U.S. until 5 a.m. the next day. As a result, a team of mostly minor leaguers took on the Minnesota Twins major league Spring Training squad. Mayo Acosta, who has been a catcher for the Bulls the past two seasons, hit two doubles and drove in three runs (he only had three RBI total last season) to lead the Rays to a 5-2 win.

The lineup for that game featured a handful of potential Bulls, including infielder Jake Hager, first baseman Kyle Roller, third baseman Patrick Leonard, first baseman Cameron Seitzer, shortstop Daniel Robertson, infielder Juniel Querecuto and outfielder Johnny Field.

MLB Trade Rumors provided a comprehensive recap of the Rays’ offseason. The article touches on the crowded outfield situation in Tampa Bay: “The depth chart is so loaded that young Mikie Mahtook is almost certainly headed for Triple-A despite posting a .970 OPS in his first 115 Major League PA last season.”

Notes: Dan Johnson’s attempt to convert from slugging first baseman to knuckleball pitcher hit a roadblock this week when Johnson sat out with a sore arm… The Rays optioned infielder Nick Franklin and catcher Luke Maile to minor league camp, which could signal a start in Durham for both… Five others were also reassigned: RHP Ryan Garton, RHP Parker Markel, 1B Kyle Roller, LHP Jonny Venters and RHP Neil WagnerPer Marc Topkin, the game against Cuba was the first time the Rays have played before a sitting U.S. President.

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