Uwasawa, Mangum among six reassigned to Minors

March 22nd, 2024

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Even with their scheduled game against the Twins rained out, the Rays took care of some important business on Friday at Charlotte Sports Park.

The Rays informed six players that they would not make their Opening Day roster and reassigned them to Minor League camp: Japanese right-hander , outfielder , relievers Joe Record and Burch Smith and catchers Rob Brantly and Francisco Mejía. All six are signed to Minor League contracts that included invitations to Major League Spring Training.

Some of the veteran players have clauses in their contracts that will allow them to pursue a job with another team in the coming days, if they want to, but the Rays are hoping they will all begin the season with Triple-A Durham.

“We’d definitely like all of them to stay in Durham and feel like they could help us throughout the course of the season,” manager Kevin Cash said.

The Rays were pleased with the way Uwasawa made adjustments as the spring went on and would view him as part of their rotation depth if he chooses to remain in the organization. A three-time All-Star in Japan, Uwasawa struggled in his first few outings but bounced back nicely the last two times out. His most recent outing came in a back-field Minor League game on Thursday.

“We kind of anticipated there would be some challenges, but he made a nice adjustment and really got the [splitter] going. Yesterday's outing, everybody was encouraged by,” Cash said. “[President of baseball operations Erik Neander] … said that there was just a lot of separation. He threw some splits that dropped and looked like curveballs. So that pitch is a pitch that I know him and [pitching coach Kyle Snyder] worked hard on maybe altering the grip a little bit, and it seems to have taken off.”

Although they have cut down their roster significantly, the Rays won’t finalize their Opening Day roster until next week. Rosters are due Thursday at noon, about four hours before they begin the season against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field, and recent injuries have forced them to change their plans on a few occasions.

The Rays are still evaluating their options for the final spot in the rotation, the last job in the bullpen and perhaps two bench spots. With Brantly and Mejía out of the running, catcher Alex Jackson would appear to be set as René Pinto’s backup, but Tampa Bay will keep an eye on how other clubs sort out their catching situations -- via an opt-out, waiver claim or trade -- before Opening Day.

The injuries to Jonny DeLuca, Josh Lowe and Jonathan Aranda will create additional opportunities for young players like Curtis Mead and Richie Palacios, but the Rays still need to fill Aranda’s spot either by promoting from within or adding another player from outside the organization. Infield prospect Austin Shenton is the top internal candidate and is expected to start one of the Rays’ games on Saturday, but the Rays will be opportunistic if a more experienced left-handed hitter becomes available.

Rainout info
The Rays didn’t have a starting pitcher scheduled to pitch against the Twins at Charlotte Sports Park, with both Opening Day starter Zach Eflin and Aaron Civale lined up for Saturday’s split-squad games, so the rotation was unaffected by the cancellation.

The relievers who had been slated to pitch against the Twins got their work done in the indoor batting cage, where they could simulate facing hitters.

All fans who planned to attend Friday’s game are encouraged to visit raysbaseball.com/spring to read the canceled game policy, or they can email [email protected] with any questions. Anyone who had already purchased tickets for the game should receive an email with further information.

Up next
Before breaking camp and heading north for the final few days of Spring Training, the Rays will split their squad to play a pair of games on Saturday afternoon.

At Charlotte Sports Park, Eflin will take the mound in his final tune-up before Opening Day against a split-squad Orioles club at 1:05 p.m. That game will air on Bally Sports Sun and MLB.TV and on the radio on WDAE 620 AM/95.3 FM.

Meanwhile, Civale will start for the other Rays squad against Spencer Strider and the Braves at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. The Braves will air that game on Bally Sports Southeast and MLB.TV and on the radio on 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan.