Rays finalize their 25-man roster

Rays finalize their 25-man roster

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Rays trimmed their roster to 25 early Saturday morning, but nothing will be official until Sunday afternoon.

Infielder/outfielder Eric Hinske's contract was purchased from Triple-A Durham; right-hander Grant Balfour was designated for assignment; infielder Joel Guzman was optioned to Durham; right-hander Juan Salas was optioned to Class A Hudson Valley; catcher Josh Paul was released; and the following were reassigned to Minor League camp: outfielders Chris Richard, John Rodriguez and Jon Weber; infielder Andy Cannizaro; catcher Mike DiFelice; and right-hander Scott Munter.

Left-hander Kurt Birkins (left elbow neuritis) and right-hander Chad Orvella (right shoulder tendinitis) were each placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21, meaning each will be available by April 5.

The Rays' pitching staff is now decided, with a starting rotation of James Shields, Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel and a bullpen that includes Troy Percival, Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler, Gary Glover, Trever Miller, Scott Dohmann and J.P. Howell.

Meanwhile, Elliot Johnson, Shawn Riggans and Hinkse all received the news that they had made the team, which made the composition of the position players as follows:

• Catchers: Dioner Navarro and Riggans
• Infielders: Carlos Pena, Akinori Iwamura, Jason Bartlett, Willy Aybar, Johnson and Hinske
• Outfielders: Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Jonny Gomes, Cliff Floyd and Nathan Haynes

Guzman said that he was disappointed.

"I think I did a pretty good job this spring," Guzman said. "... I've got to go down [to the Minor Leagues] now and do whatever they say."

Mixed with the disappointment inside the Rays' clubhouse was the joy felt by Dohmann, Johnson, Hinske and Riggans.

Rays manager Joe Maddon told Dohmann on Friday night that he had made the team. Dohmann and Grant Balfour had been the final combatants for the last spot in the 'pen.

"It's a good feeling to be on a Major League roster," Dohmann said. "Being an Opening Day Major Leaguer is a huge privilege."

Hinske made the team as much for his ability to play the corner outfield and infield positions as well as his veteran presence. He will be the Opening Day right fielder in Baltimore.

"I'm happy, obviously, to make this team," Hinske said. "... Definitely helps if you can play all four corners. I'm just excited to be here and a part of what's going on."

Entering Spring Training, Ben Zobrist looked like the favorite to win the Rays' utility job. But Zobrist broke the tip of his left thumb, which prevented him from being ready for Opening Day. Johnson emerged as the player to take Zobrist's place due to his hard-nosed play and the results he's had.

Johnson became a media sensation earlier in the spring when he bowled over Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, breaking Cervelli's right wrist. The play became the focal point for bad blood between the Rays and Yankees. After that, everything Johnson did impressed the Rays.

"This has been a long time coming," Johnson said. "... Things have really worked out. But really, you never know."

Maddon said that Riggans will catch one game to every three caught by Navarro.

"I've come a long way from last year," said Riggans, who was cut on the final day of camp prior to the 2007 season. "... Obviously, they see something they like. ... They must feel like I have some good things to offer.

"This feels great, not good. I'm looking forward to getting the season started."

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