Blalock beaten out for bench spot on Rays

Texas Rangers vs. Seattle MarinersReid Brignac has beaten out Hank Blalock for the final infield spot on the Tampa Bay Rays. Blalock had signed with the Rays in hopes of splitting time with Pat Burrell at DH and making the occasional start in place of Carlos Pena at first.

Blalock got in 40 at-bats this spring and after a hot start he finished with a .175 average, 1 homer and 3 RBI.

Brignac, meanwhile, hit .362 this spring, with 18 RBI’s in 58 at bats.

An injury to Matt Joyce which will move Ben Zobrist to outfield duty also made the option of keeping both Brignac and Sean Rodriguez that much easier.

The Rays have allowed Blalock the seek employment elsewhere but if he cannot they have left the door open for him to start the year at AAA Durham. Manager Joe Maddon said he liked what he saw from Blalock and that he still felt that the former two time All-Star could play a pivotal role for the Rays this season.

Blalock stated earlier this week that he would not accept a demotion from Tampa Bay and had no intentions of playing for Durham.

The four bench spots for the Rays will be occupied by C Dioner Navarro, INF Reid Brignac, OF Gabe Kapler, and INF Willy Aybar.

The Rays are said to be still in deliberation over whether Joaquin Benoit or Mike Ekstrom will be employed as the seventh reliever on the team. Both pitchers had rocky springs.