De La Rosa Gets Unlikely Opportunity With Rays





ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Spring training is as much about optimism as opportunity.
And the convergence of both will make the opening of camp a special event for righthander Dane de la Rosa.

The 6-foot-7, 247-pound reliever has traveled a circuitous path to get there, from a 24th-round draft pick of the Yankees in 2002 to four seasons bouncing around the independent leagues to a breakthrough 2010 season at age 27, mostly at Double-A Montgomery. And then to a promotion to the Rays 40-man roster.

"It's a great opportunity," de la Rosa said.

"It's a really neat story," farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "It gives us great satisfaction to make a phone call to Dane de la Rosa like we did and tell him the good news, the great news. He's a young man who's been a journeyman, who's been out of Organized Ball for a good bit of time."

De la Rosa surfaced at an opportune time, as the Rays have several spots open in their bullpen and are openly looking for "upside players."

His numbers suggest he can present an interesting case: he went 9-3, 2.01 last year with 80 strikeouts and 26 walks over 76 innings.

Rays officials—having gotten a strong recommendation from California area scout Jake Wilson—were pleasantly surprised.

"We didn't know what to expect," Lukevics said. "He's a tall, good-body, hard-throwing righthander, and in spring didn't get a perfect look."

The Rays started him at high Class A Charlotte last year, then moved him quickly to Montgomery based on what he did and how he did it. "He shows the stuff, and he shows the maturity," Lukevics said.

"He's a good worker and he's a good character guy," Lukevics said. "I'm glad he's with us now."

COOL RAYS

• Two veterans were late additions to the spring roster after signing minor league contracts: reliever Juan Cruz and middle infielder Felipe Lopez.

• Dave Eiland, the former Rays pitcher and Yankees pitching coach, will be a spring training instructor. Eiland joined the Rays as a special assistant in the front office. New Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen, who was promoted from Charlotte, will also be an instructor.