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Notes: Surprises in Opening Day lineup

Notes: Surprises in Opening Day lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- Monday's Opening Day lineup against the Yankees will contain a few variations from what some might have expected heading into Spring Training.

For starters, B.J. Upton will be the team's second baseman, as incumbent Jorge Cantu was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Saturday.

"B.J.'s going to play second base," manager Joe Maddon said. "B.J.'s going to play center field. And he's going to play some right field. He's still going to work the triangle pretty much. He will probably get the preponderance of his work at second base. He'll start there Monday."

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Upton was a late scratch for Saturday's game against the Mets for precautionary reasons due to soreness in his lower left leg, but Maddon said he would be in the lineup Monday.

Rocco Baldelli continues to nurse a sore right hamstring, which fueled a move to make him the designated hitter to start the season.

How long he is the DH is "all based on how Rocco feels," Maddon said. "And I told him I don't want to make any artificial deadlines. When you're ready to go, you're ready to go and we'll make the move. But for now, I just want him to concentrate on that. We feel as though he can control his running better as an offensive player. On defense, it's a lot tougher. This way we can put a governor on what he's doing a little bit. ... I just see [Baldelli at DH] temporarily. Maybe a week or so, I don't see it as being overtly long."

Elijah Dukes will take over in center field and bat in the eighth spot in the order. With Upton batting ninth, the Rays will have quite a speed injection in the lineup feeding back into Carl Crawford in the leadoff spot.

Final roster moves: The Rays made their final roster cuts Saturday morning and said goodbye, for now, to five players to reach the required number of 25 players for Opening Day in New York.

In addition to Cantu, catcher Shawn Riggans was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

"Riggo had a really good camp, and he's a great teammate," Maddon said. "We just thought it would be unfair to have him as a backup. He still has things to learn. And to have him play on a regular basis would benefit us if we need him at some point. We just thought it was the prudent thing to do."

Catcher Raul Casanova, outfielder Dustan Mohr and infielder Jorge Velandia were reassigned to Minor League camp.

The Rays Opening Day roster will feature 11 players who appear there for the first time -- and they'll be at Yankee Stadium.

"Nice," said Maddon when that fact was brought to his attention. "I think it's great. We have to face all of our demons head on. We've got to get into an attack mode. We're not hiding from anything, and so be it, if that's the way it has to be. What better place to cut your teeth than there? Let's go."

Non-roster invitees: When you go to a Major League Spring Training camp as a Minor League invitee, the odds are stacked against you making the club. But that's what right-hander Gary Glover did while earning a spot in the Rays' bullpen.

"Obviously, coming into the spring, you know things are going to be tough," Glover said. "You're going to have to outshine a number of people in order to make that move to open up a roster spot for you. It's something that worked out well this spring."

Glover said he had no clue he would be making the club until the news came down Friday.

"I knew I was throwing the ball pretty well most of spring," Glover said. "But when roster spots are involved, it's not always going to be about how well you do."

Glover wasn't the only non-roster invitee to be placed on the Opening Day roster. Right-hander Al Reyes shared the same distinction.

Past non-roster invitees to make the Rays' Opening Day roster include: Rolando Arrojo (1998); Dave Eiland and Herbert Perry (2000); Ken Hill (2001); Baldelli, Jim Parque, and Steve Parris (2003); Hideo Nomo and Chris Singleton (2005); and Jason Childers, Ruddy Lugo, and Luis Ordaz (2006).

This and that: Dave Martinez will serve as the Rays first-base coach for the team's first six games as regular first-base coach George Hendrick is recovering from March 23 left-knee surgery. ... Barnacles in Brandon will host an Opening Day viewing party Monday afternoon for the Rays-Yankees 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Rich Herrera will be on hand to conduct his pregame and postgame radio shows from the location.

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

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