Rays designate Pat Burrell for assignment; promote Hank Blalock

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Pat Burrell headshot.jpgThe Rays have designated designated hitter Pat Burrell for assignment in order to make room for Hank Blalock, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Burrell, 33, has been a tremendous failure since signing a two-year, $16 million contract with the club in January of 2009, posting a pathetic .218/.311/.361 batting line and just 16 homers over 572 plate appearances. He was batting 202/.292/.333 with two homers and 13 RBI over his first 84 at-bats this season.

The Rays did their best to trade Burrell during the offseason, including protracted talks with the Cubs involving Milton Bradley, however a trade never materialized. Now they’ll pay him $9 million this season just to go away.

Blalock, 29, was batting .349/.405/.505 with four home runs and 24 RBI with Triple-A Durham. Earlier this week, his agent Scott Boras told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that his client planned to use an opt-clause in his contract if he wasn’t promoted to the major league roster. Now that Burrell is out of the way, Blalock figures to be the primary designated hitter and backup first baseman for the struggling Carlos Pena.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.