Spring training has goten off to a great start for the Rays. For what it’s worth, they’ve gone 4-1 in their first five games, but more importantly everyone is getting their feet under them in advance of what should be an exciting 2013 season. Today a couple of big spring firsts are set to happen for the Rays.
Niemann is making his second spring outing as he competes for the Rays’ 5th starter job, but in relief of him, Jeremy Hellickson will make his spring debut. Hellickson is lined up to be the Rays’ number two starter and they’re expecting big things from him this season. Hopefully everything goes well in his first outing.
The entire lineup is made up of players who will likely be on the Rays’ major league team in 2013, but the thing that particularly stands out is that Kelly Johnson is playing left field, something he hasn’t done in the major leagues since 2005. But the Rays are going to use Johnson in a much more versatile role this season, having him see time in left in addition to his natural position of second base, and while he’s going to have to shake off some rust, they believe he can be fine at his old position.
“Just because my career has not gone as fast as some people thought it would, I’m not going to lack confidence. I’m not going to think down on myself at all. I know I can play for years to come. It’s just a matter of time. And I can say that with confidence. I know that.”
“I think he’s at the point now where the things we’re saying to him are beginning to make sense,” Maddon said. “He looks great. … I’m really excited.”