Rays praise Durham's Triple-A championship

Rays praise Durham's Triple-A championship

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Durham Bulls are the champs.

The Bulls defeated the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) on Tuesday night in the Triple-A National Championship Game. The 5-3 win gave the Bulls their second win in the Triple-A Championship Game (also 2009) since it began in 2006.

"It's pretty special," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Congrats to all of those players. Obviously, [manager] Jared [Sandberg] and the coaching staff. That's not an easy thing to do. On any given night they could have one, two, three players called from their team. And somehow you have to be able to make it work."

Second baseman Kean Wong hit a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning, rehabbing left-hander Xavier Cedeno (left forearm tightness) tossed a scoreless fifth inning on 17 pitches, and right-handed starter Brent Honeywell followed with 2 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win.

Chaim Bloom, the Rays' vice president of baseball operations, wasn't at the game but watched during the Rays-Cubs game Tuesday night.

"When it comes to the Minor Leagues, we always focus on development first," Bloom said. "With that said, winning is part of development. We like to think that if we develop well, then winning is going to be a byproduct of that. And that playoff experience, having to come through in those big games and pressure situations, is really, really good for these guys."

Like Cash, Bloom said he tipped his cap to Sandberg and his staff, and the players for "what they've done."

"I don't know that people fully appreciate all the constraints that get placed on a Triple-A club throughout the season, because they have to service our big league club," Bloom said. "And to overcome all of that, and then win the whole thing is pretty great."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.