Over the last week or so, the Tampa Bay Rays have gone through a roster overhaul. It seems every day the Rays have a new player in uniform. In past years, that would've meant shedding salaries and looking toward next year. This year, it's all injuries. I'll be the first to admit, I have only a passing interest in the Rays farm system. I'm aware of the big names, some of the other players I don't know much about. So, I want to put on my journalist hat and introduce you to some of the new Rays.
First off, here's a look at the disabled list as it stands today:
Now, time for the New Rays:
Randy Choate (LHP) - Choate appears in the Rays media guide under Non-Roster Invitees. The New York Yankees drafted the 33-year-old from Florida State University in 1997 where he played with JD Drew. He made the Yankees opening day roster in 2001/2002. Spent time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers minor league systems before the Rays signed him in December of last year.
Who he's replacing: Brian Shouse
Interesting Trivia: Made major league debut July 1, 2000 at Tropicana Field as a Yankee. He faced one batter: Fred McGriff.
Other Interesting Fact: First name is Randol
Jason Isringhausen (RHP) - Probably one of the more well-known of the new Rays. Isringhausen has had a long career saving Major League Baseball games. With 293 saves, Izzy is 22nd on the all-time save list.
Izzy began his career as a starter in the New York Mets organization. Injuries derailed his career as a starter and the Mets eventually traded him to the Oakland A's where he was moved to the bullpen. He pitched with the A's for a couple of years before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent in 2002. The past couple of years have been off and on for Izzy. In 2006, he was removed as the Cardinal's closer, then he was reinstated in 2007 before finally losing his job in May of last year. He left the Cardinals for good in August. The Rays signed him to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. It appeared the Rays were using him as a backup plan for Troy Percival. That came to fruition last week when he was brought up and Percival went on the DL, possibly retiring.
Who he's replacing: Troy Percival
Interesting fact: Izzy makes his off-season home in Tarpon Springs.
Reid Brignac (SS) - The Rays drafted Brignac in the 2nd round of the 2004 June Draft. The 23-year-old has worked his way through the Rays minor league system with stops in Princeton, Charleston, SW Michigan, Visalia, Montgomery and Durham. He made his major league debut on July 3rd last year after Jason Bartlett was placed on the 15-day Disabled list. He played 4 games and made 2 starts. His season was cut short after a pitch broke his wrist.
Who he's replacing: Akinori Iwamura
Interesting Fact: Brignac spent time this off-season with former major leaguers Eric Young and Will Clark helping at a Little League Prak in Baton Rouge.
Dale Thayer (RHP) - Thayer is getting his first work in the big leagues this year. The Rays acquired him as the player to be named later in the Russell Branyan deal in 2006. He spent all of last year with the Durham Bulls going 3-1 with 9 saves and a 2.77 ERA.
Who's he replacing: Technically, Pat Burrell. But in reality he's another arm out of the bullpen to provide middle relief.
Interesting fact: According to the media guide, Thayer wants to be a police officer or fireman when he's finished with baseball.
David Price (LHP) - King David has arrived. With plenty of fanfare, the Rays ace-in-waiting is now in the rotation. Price was drafted as the first overall pick in the June 2007 draft and has quickly worked his way through the minor to arrive with the team his first year as a professional. He did have some memorable moments last year during the Rays run to the world series. He started one game and pitched in relief during several others. Probably the biggest of those moments was when he shut the door on the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS at Tropicana Field. Price is here to stay.
Who he's replacing: Scott Kazmir
Interesting fact: President Barack Obama told Price during a campaign rally at Legends Field last year that he wouldn't hold it against him for eliminating his beloved Chicago White Sox from the playoffs.
Joe Dillon (Utility) - Probably the biggest question mark among the "New Rays." I had actually never heard of the guy before he was called up yesterday. Dillon was the player to be named later in the deal that sent Adam Kennedy to the Oakland A's a couple of weeks ago. for the most part, Dillon is a career minor leaguer. He's played a few games in the bigs the last couple of years for the Florida Marlins and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Who he's replacing: Jason Bartlett
Interesting fact: Spent the 2006 season with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. He played 1st, 3rd, and outfield for them.
Some of these guys may be with the team for the long haul, others will disappear rather quickly. For more posts like this, sign up for my RSS feed. There, you can get my posts delivered right to your RSS reader or you can even get on my e-mail list.