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Peralta's stiff neck improves

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Joel Peralta reported on Saturday that his stiff neck had improved dramatically enough to where he could long toss.

"Maybe [I'll throw a] bullpen tomorrow," Peralta said.

Meanwhile, the right-hander's fate remains up in the air, as far as playing for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic.

Peralta tried with no success on Friday to contact former Major Leaguer Moises Alou, who is the general manager for the Dominican Republic team. He said he would try again Saturday to give a status update.

"I don't think that I'll be ready to help the team," Peralta said.

Peralta made no secret of the fact that pitching for his native country would mean a lot to him. But he doesn't want to fill a slot and hurt the team. Nor does he want to hurt the Rays by pitching too much during the Classic.

"This is my last chance, probably, to be in the Classic," said Peralta, who turns 37 on March 23. "And I do want to be there. I wish that I can be there."

Joel Peralta