Rays opt not to keep Hank Blalock for bench job

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Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays have chosen Reid Brignac over Hank Blalock for their final bench spot, so Blalock “will assess his other major-league options for a few days” after saying earlier this week that he’d refuse an assignment to the minors.
Topkin speculates that Blalock “could end up at Triple-A Durham if he doesn’t find a better opportunity” and manager Joe Maddon noted that he’d be happy to keep the veteran in the organization as a possible in-season call-up.
Of course, Maddon also said “I really think he’s going to have a big year” moments after the team chose not to keep him around as a bench player, so who knows. Don’t expect Blalock to land a big-league job at this point, so whether it’s with the Rays or another team he’ll likely need a productive stint at Triple-A to re-surface in the majors.

Jeff Samardzija to undergo MRI on right shoulder

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Giants starter Jeff Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his ailing right shoulder, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. The right-hander struggled in a minor league game on Wednesday, surrendering a pair of home runs and hitting a batter. Overall this spring, Samardzija has given up 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits (six homers) and seven walks with seven strikeouts in 11 innings.

This may mean Samardzija won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Derek Holland would likely replace Samardzija in the rotation. Holland had been competing for the No. 5 spot in the Giants’ rotation.

Samardzija led the National League in losses last season with 15, also posting a 4.42 ERA with a 205/32 K/BB ratio in a league-high 207 2/3 innings. Since becoming a starter, Samardzija has been able to avoid injury, making 32 or 33 starts in each of the last five seasons.