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Miceli goes from key job to out of one
Dan Miceli entered spring training expected to earn a spot in the bullpen. Two days before Tampa Bay has to trim its roster to 25, Miceli is gone.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published March 30, 2007
FORT MYERS - Dan Miceli entered spring training expected to earn a spot in the bullpen. Two days before Tampa Bay has to trim its roster to 25, Miceli is gone.
The Rays released the 36-year-old veteran Thursday, a move they said speaks to the stiff competition for bullpen spots.
"We determined that letting Dan go was in the best interest of the organization," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "The biggest thing for us is finding the right combination of relievers and give them the requisite work this year and following years."
Miceli, in the second year of a three-year contract, will still cost the Rays $850,000 $650,000 in 2007 base salary and a $200,000 buyout for 2008. Friedman said eating his contract was "somewhat irrelevant."
Miceli was 1-2 with a 3.94 ERA in 32 innings last season, but he struggled this spring, pitching to a 9.53 ERA. Miceli, who didn't return a phone message after his release, has been involved in some controversies.
"He wasn't a great fit," Friedman said. "Part of it was performance."
The move trims the roster to 33 heading into another round of cuts today to get it closer to 25, and it opens a spot on the 40-man roster, likely to be taken by spot starter/reliever Gary Glover. Three relievers - Seth McClung, Chad Orvella and Juan Salas - are fighting for the remaining spot.
"Right now we'd like to get a look at some of the other guys," manager Joe Maddon said of the move. "That's the primary thing. ... We just felt at this particular moment we had a lot of options to go with."
LIGHTENING THE LOAD: Although Maddon said he believes CF Rocco Baldelli and C Dioner Navarro will be ready for opening day, he said he might take precautionary steps to limit their action.
Maddon will decide this morning whether Baldelli will play in a minor-league game or participate in the Rays' Grapefruit League game against the Reds. Baldelli, who hasn't played in an official spring game since March 20, tested the hamstring successfully in a minor-league game Wednesday.
"With Rocco, he's always going to want to play at 100 percent," Maddon said. "With Rocco, even if he runs at 80 percent, he exceeds how most major-league players are going to run. ... Maybe I'll ask him to not dive, to not run as hard as he can, not to steal."
Maddon, who said he hoped to have Navarro back by today's game, wanted each position player to receive 60 at-bats this spring. Navarro, who has played twice since straining his left hamstring March 8, has just 12.
"That is a concern," Maddon said. "We may not be able to push him really hard in the first part of the season, but if he answered the bell, which I know he will, I would probably be on guard with the weather and the at-bats early. With the squatting, the behind-the-plate situation, we'd almost have to stretch him out again."
Maddon said he'd know more if Navarro can play in the remaining spring games today and Saturday.
MISCELLANY: RHP Jae Kuk Ryu allowed two solo homers in the last two innings, blowing a two-run lead in a 3-3 tie with the Red Sox. ... C Josh Paul returned from a bruised right hand, catching the final three innings and striking out in his only at-bat. ... Maddon continues to be impressed with B.J. Upton at second, and even in center and right. "I just think there's something about this side of the field he's more comfortable with, so I want to keep him there," Maddon said. "I just see a sense of confidence from him." ... In sending cash considerations to the Reds, the Rays completed their January trade for IF Brendan Harris. ... Before the game, Red Sox shortstop and former Ray Julio Lugo received a warm, hug-filled reception in the Rays dugout.