PORT CHARLOTTE — The Tampa Bay Rays inched closer Tuesday to finalizing their Opening Day roster when outfielder Brandon Guyer was told he was making the team and infielders Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix and pitcher Mark Lowe were informed they would not make the cut.
It appears pitchers Brandon Gomes, who still has an option remaining, and Josh Lueke, who doesn't, have earned spots in the bullpen, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said he couldn't confirm that. The team is still deciding what to do with reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, who is expected to begin the season on the disabled list. Maddon also said “there's something else in play” regarding bullpen but wouldn't elaborate.
Gomes has not allowed a run in nine innings over seven appearances. Lueke allowed three runs in 91⁄3 innings, with all three runs coming in one inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Tuesday's moves means the outfield is set with Desmond Jennings, Wil Myers, David DeJesus, Matt Joyce and Guyer, and that infielder Logan Forsythe has made the team.
As they did last Saturday with pitcher Erik Bedard, the Rays gave Betemit, Nix and Lowe an opportunity to look for a major-league job with another organization. If not, Maddon said, all three, who were signed to minor-league contracts with invitations to camp, would be welcomed at Triple-A Durham.
“Selfishly, I want them back,” Maddon said. “Unselfishly, I want what's best for them and their families.”
Betemit, the only one of the three to play in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox and thus the only one in the clubhouse after the game, said he would like to see if he can find a spot on another major-league roster. If not, he is willing to stay with the organization.
“If another team wants me to be in the big leagues, of course,” he said. “But if not, I'll stay here.”
Lowe had a March 31 opt-out clause in his minor-league contract.
The Rays have until Sunday at 3 p.m. to finalize the regular-season roster. Beginning with tonight's game against the visiting Baltimore Orioles, they are scheduled to play three more Grapefruit League games plus an exhibition Saturday in Montgomery, Ala., against their Double-A affiliate. So, as Maddon pointed out, a lot can happen between now and the weekend that can affect the roster.
“Those kinds of things change,” Maddon said, “and if they do change and they get to stay with us, that will be wonderful, because those three guys fit in with us well.”
Maddon talked recently about the three players vying for the final spot on the bench.
He called Nix the ultimate professional who fits on any team. Betemit was attractive because he is a switch-hitter. Guyer is a traditional outfielder who can serve as a defensive replacement, a pinch-hitter and a pinch-runner.
“You haven't seen a lot here, and we really like what he's done in Triple-A,” Maddon said. “The combination of skill and the metrics that are behind him indicate that this guy would be a pretty good baseball player.”
Guyer made his major-league debut in 2011, homering in his first at-bat. He's battle injuries the past two seasons, missing chances both times to be promoted to the big-league club. Healthy this spring, Guyer was sure he could earn a spot on the team despite the fact he was out of options and the Rays would have to place him on waivers and risk losing him to another club.
Still, Guyer said he wasn't sure what was going to happen late Tuesday morning when he was summoned to Maddon's office.
“I didn't know what to think,” Guyer said. “I thought I had a pretty good spring training. I showed them everything I could do. You never know. My heart was beating. I didn't know what to expect. Very thankful for the opportunity.”
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