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Jennings odd man out for 40-man roster spot?

Lefty among quartet of players out of options facing heat from non-roster talent
MLB.com @wwchastain

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When trying to figure out the roster puzzle Major League teams must solve before the end of Spring Training, the answer often comes down to this: Who has options, and who doesn't?

Many times this can lead to tough decisions. If a player is out of options, and the team does not want to expose that player to waivers, it must use a spot on its 25-man roster. Fortunately for the Rays, those decisions -- where options are concerned -- don't appear to be too taxing this spring.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When trying to figure out the roster puzzle Major League teams must solve before the end of Spring Training, the answer often comes down to this: Who has options, and who doesn't?

Many times this can lead to tough decisions. If a player is out of options, and the team does not want to expose that player to waivers, it must use a spot on its 25-man roster. Fortunately for the Rays, those decisions -- where options are concerned -- don't appear to be too taxing this spring.

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Rays players out of options on the 40-man roster include the following: C.J. Cron, Jesus Sucre, Dan Jennings, and Chaz Roe.

All appear to be locks for the Opening Day roster, though there has been some speculation about Jennings, who will make $2.375 million this season. Jennings was acquired last season to give the Rays a tough left-hander for short situations out of the bullpen. Now the talk is about stretching him out to pitch longer relief. With lefty Jose Alvarado coming on strong, that could prompt the Rays to trade or release Jennings.

Meanwhile, Roe is not a household name, but his slider has recently gained some acclaim:

Tweet from @MLB: Do you believe in magic? #Filthy pic.twitter.com/4pO7MOD1fy

Faria shows improvement
Jake Faria started for the Rays in Friday afternoon's 11-1 win over the Twins. The right-hander entered the game with a less-than-dazzling resume for the spring at 0-2, with a 16.62 ERA in three starts.

Faria got in some early trouble, but he did a nice job of cleaning things up, allowing no earned runs on three hits and a walk, while striking out three in four innings.

Video: TB@MIN: Faria fans three, allows zero earned runs

"Good to see him bounce back," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He had a strong outing. Got the fastball going. Got some punchouts in there. I gotta think he felt really good after that outing because of what had taken place leading up to it."

Faria has said of his struggles that he hadn't been able to find a groove. Friday he managed to find it.

"Once I felt in [a groove] on a few back-to-back pitches, I was able to hold onto it," Faria said.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Faria smiled when asked if he felt a sense of relief for getting better results.

"Yeah, a little bit," he said. "... This is a huge stride forward. Just have to hold onto it."

Nuno and Hu moves
Left-hander Vidal Nuno was reassigned to Minor League camp on Friday and right-hander Chih-Wei Hu was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

Cash said both would be "stretched out" for longer relief outings, and starting.

"I think Chih-Wei's probably got a more clear patch to start in Durham, but Nuno could be really important to us, really valuable early on in the season," Cash said. "We want to keep him versatile. And get him to where he can get to that 60-pitch, 70-pitch mark. And the best way to do that was probably get him down to Minor League camp to get that going. To get that buildup."

Camp battles
Ryan Yarbrough is battling to earn a bullpen spot as a long man, and he did nothing to hurt his cause on Friday when he held the Twins scoreless on a hit and a walk while striking out one in three innings. The left-hander's spring ERA is 2.53.

 "He has pitched well all spring for us," Cash said. "I just like the conviction he comes in with. Not lighting up the radar gun, but he knows how to pitch to the edges. Use his stuff at the right time. And he gets a lot of soft contact."

Injury update
Brad Miller (broken right pinky toe) played first base in a Minor League game against the Twins' Triple-A affiliate on Thursday. All went well, and he's now slated to play Saturday in Fort Myers, against the Red Sox.

"He passed yesterday, today will be a day off," Cash said. "He'll do his work. Batting practice. Talking to him this morning, he seemed to feel pretty good. Get him out there against the Red Sox."

Cash said they are looking for Mallex Smith (sore right hamstring) to play in a Minor League game on Monday or Tuesday.

Cash said Smith will take part in some running drills on Saturday.

Up next
The Rays travel to Fort Myers Saturday afternoon for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest against the Red Sox. Austin Pruitt will get the start. The right-hander is hoping to earn a spot in the bullpen. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Dan Jennings