Notes: Rays may get new spring home

Notes: Rays may get new spring home

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Devil Rays moved another step closer to moving their Spring Training facilities from St. Petersburg to Charlotte County.

On Tuesday, Rays officials appeared before the Charlotte County Commission, which tentatively agreed to spend tourist tax dollars in the neighborhood of $15 million to bring the Rays to Port Charlotte by 2009.

"We went before them with a plan that showed the finances, the programs, the community uses, what the project would look like at the very early design stages," said Michael Kalt, Rays senior vice president for development and business affairs. "And [we] asked them for some directional ideas of whether they would be in favor of A, the project, and B, the funding sources for the project.

"And from what we've heard, we had all four commissioners who said, 'Yeah, go forward with this and bring back an agreement on [Sept. 12]. And if the agreement reflects what we saw today, we intend to approve it and move forward with the project.'"

Charlotte County will apply for an $8 million state grant that would keep the Rays in Charlotte County through 2029. Meanwhile, the Rays will spend $4 million to improve Charlotte Sports Park and also contribute $150,000 a year in maintenance costs.

The Rays have stated their intentions to become a presence in Charlotte County. In addition to providing the Rays with an improved Spring Training facility, Tampa Bay feels they will benefit greatly by expanding its fan base further south along Florida's west coast.

Progress Energy Park in St. Petersburg has been the Rays' Spring Training home since the team's first season in 1998.

Seo's status uncertain: Jae Seo threw a bullpen session prior to Tuesday night's game, but his status remained up in the air as to whether or not he will make his Friday night start against the Orioles. The right-hander has been bothered by a sore left groin.

Manager Joe Maddon wanted to talk to Seo before making a decision about putting him on the disabled list.

"He's going to be stating his case to pitch," Maddon said. "I want to give him every benefit of the doubt, but I don't want to see him get hurt either."

Seo is 1-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 11 appearances with the Rays.

If Seo can't go, right-hander Jason Hammel will be recalled from Triple-A Durham. In anticipation of such a move, Hammel was removed from his start on Monday night against Indianapolis after 2 2/3 innings.

Hammel is 5-9 with a 4.23 ERA in 24 starts for the Bulls this season. He made two starts for the Rays and went 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA.

Shining in the Cal League: The Class A California League named Visalia Oaks shortstop Reid Brignac the 2006 MVP. Brignac was also named the league's Rookie of the Year, and to the Cal League's postseason All-Star team.

Brignac batted .326 with 21 home runs and 83 RBIs in 100 games before being promoted to Double-A Montgomery on Aug. 3. Since his promotion to the Biscuits, he is hitting .274 with one home run and five RBIs in 16 games.

In addition, Oaks manager Joe Szekely was named to the postseason All-Star team as Manager of the Year in a tie with Gary Thurman of the Inland Empire 66ers.

This and that: B.J. Upton was a late scratch from the lineup with left-shoulder soreness. Upton missed the three-game series against the Indians because of the same problem. ... Infielder Luis Ordaz returned from his rehab assignment and was designated for assignment.

Coming up: The Rays will play the third game of their four-game series against the Rangers on Wednesday night in a 7:15 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Left-hander Casey Fossum (6-5, 5.06 ERA) will start for the Rays and, he'll be opposed by right-hander Kevin Millwood (12-8, 4.58).

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.