Rays ink minor league deals with Shelley Duncan, Jamey Wright and Juan Carlos Oviedo

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have agreed to minor league contracts with outfielder Shelley Duncan and right-handed pitchers Jamey Wright and Juan Carlos Oviedo.

Duncan batted just .203/.288/.388 in 264 plate appearances last season with the Indians. The 33-year-old does have some power but seems highly doubtful to crack the Rays’ Opening Day roster.

Wright, on the other hand, could find a spot in middle relief. He posted a 3.72 ERA (aided by an impressive 67.3% groundball rate) in 67 2/3 innings last summer with the Dodgers. The 38-year-old faced a total of 306 batters in 2012 and allowed only two home runs.

Oviedo — formerly known as Leo Nunez — underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last September and is not expected to be fully recovered from that procedure until the very end of the 2013 campaign. His particular minor league deal includes a club option for the 2014 season.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.