The Rays have had talent bursting from the seams for years now, yet for some reason, they had never gotten around to replacing Justin Ruggiano on their 40-man roster until finally making the Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon signings official today.
Ruggiano, along with Cuban defector Leslie Anderson, were designated for assignment to make room for the two veterans.
Ruggiano was added to the 40-man roster and called up by the Rays way back on Sept. 16, 2007. He got 14 at-bats with the team at the end of the season and had three hits and three RBI. In 2008, he received four callups and played in 45 games, hitting .197/.247/.329 in 76 at-bats. Already 26, his future seemed dim at that point.
Still, the Rays kept carrying him. Ruggiano slipped to .250/.330/.412 in his third season in Triple-A in 2009, and he was never given a callup, even after the rosters expanded in September. Yet there he was, still on the 40-man roster again all winter. In 2010, he bounced back somewhat, hitting .287/.357/.453 for Durham. Again, he was denied even a September callup.
So, Ruggiano ended up spending three years and five months on the Rays’ 40-man roster and giving the team a .200/.250/.311 line in 90 at-bats during the span. With the way his minor league numbers have fallen off the last two years, it’s hard to imagine him being claimed off waivers. He probably wouldn’t even be very intriguing to a Japanese team at this point. If he ever shows up on a 40-man roster again, it’d be an upset.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.