PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Joel Peralta confirmed on Sunday morning that he would not be participating for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, and noted he was disappointed about that fact.
"The main thing is, this is probably the only chance I have to play in the WBC and I'm not going to be able to," Peralta said. "I was hoping that I could. Years earlier, I was anxious for them to invite me to go and they didn't. Now, they invite me to go and I can't go. So it hurts a little bit."
Peralta pointed out that the silver lining of the situation could be found in the fact that he should be fresh to pitch deep into the season for the Rays.
"That was the whole goal, that was the point," Peralta said. "September, October when [we] make the playoffs, the World Series, [I'll] still be fresh. So I can help the team win. That was the main thing."
Peralta has been slowed by a stiff neck thus far in Spring Training.
"If I was practicing and pitching, I might change my mind," Peralta said.
Cust inks Minor League deal
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Tampa Bay announced early on Sunday morning it had signed veteran outfielder/designated hitter Jack Cust to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League camp.
Cust, 34, took part in Sunday's first full-squad workout. He has 10 years of Major League experience, but last played in the big leagues in 2011 for the Mariners. He has a career .242 batting average with 105 home runs and 323 RBIs in 670 Major League games. Cust is a left-handed hitter and has played right field, left field and DH in stints with the A's, Orioles, D-backs, Rockies, Padres and Mariners.
When asked about why he signed with the Rays, Cust noted that he had admired the Rays for years from the opposing dugout.
"Joe [Maddon] and his staff, what they do here is just amazing," Cust said. "You hear only great things about the organization. It's somewhere that I always thought to myself that, 'It would be cool to play over there.' Just an easy, free game that they play."
Cust split time between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) and Triple-A Las Vegas (Toronto) in 2012, hitting .243 with 20 home runs and 72 RBIs in 114 games. He noted that his swing had been in disarray last season, but he feels like he's gotten everything back in order.
"This offseason, I had a lot of time to work on it," Cust said. "I worked with my brother a lot. Just kind of fixed some mechanical things that were going on that weren't allowing me to do what I do. I feel like I've got my swing to the point where I can make adjustments on the fly from pitch to pitch, whereas that was kind of hard for me to do the last couple of years. Physically, I always feel pretty good."
Cust said he had not yet talked to the Rays regarding their plans for him.
"For me, this is something where I feel like I'm in a good spot and a good situation," Cust said. "Physically and mentally, I feel good. I've got nothing to lose. I've played the game a long time."
Maddon elaborated on what the Rays were thinking about when they signed Cust.
"It's primarily about his bat, power-wise," Maddon said. "This guy knows how to look over an at-bat. He's going to strike out a little bit. But he does a lot of other things that impact a team offensively in a positive way."
If Cust does not make the team, he will be a candidate for the Triple-A Durham roster.
Scott ready for action
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Luke Scott reported to camp on Sunday feeling good about his conditioning and his prospects for the season.
Scott was not in top form last season, due to his recovery from right-shoulder surgery. In deference to the previous offseason, Scott was able to take part in his normal workouts -- minus the precautionary measures. That has allowed him to add some quality weight, while injecting some enthusiasm into his feelings about the coming year.
Included in Scott's offseason regimen was wood chopping and bow shooting. Not only did the bow shooting allow him to add overall strength to different body parts, but there was an added benefit.
"There's definitely some meat in the freezer," Scott said. "I definitely put that bow to use and harvested some of God's furry little creatures."
Molina taking things in stride
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jose Molina is slated to play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, which means he'll be leaving the Rays at some point during the spring. Since the Rays have a lot of new arms in camp, Molina was asked if felt any pressure about not having the time to catch all of the team's pitchers so he can grow familiar with them.
"I don't have pressure," Molina said. "I'm good. You catch them and you learn. I need to catch them and talk to them one time to know what they like to do. It's an easy process. I don't put pressure on myself like that."
When asked if any of the new arms had caught his eye, Molina said now is not the time to really form any opinions -- since the pitchers are building up stamina and throwing mostly fastballs.
"Ask me that question again later in the spring," Molina said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.