Turn your hats to the left because Fernando Rodney is back in the 9th inning. Rodney tossed the final inning of the game as the Dominican Republic rolled over Venezuela 9-3 in both teams’ World Baseball Classic opener, and he worked around a walk to toss a shutout inning, releasing one of his signature arrows after nailing down the DR win. It’s hard to find a person who’s passionate about the World Baseball Classic, but great to see Rodney throwing the ball well and hopefully the WBC can help him get ready for another strong season to follow up his historic 2012.
Two Rays position players are currently dealing with injuries, and for both of them it’s their hamstrings that are the problem: Luke Scott and Sam Fuld. Rays fans can’t help but wince when hearing about a hamstring injury after such an injury derailed Evan Longoria in 2012, but luckily both of them are expected to be fine relatively soon. Joe Maddon told Marc Topkin that Scott is expected to return to action early next week. Fuld, though, will require a little bit more time, and Maddon said that the reason for that is how important speed is to his game.
“With Sam, it’s a just a matter that Sam relies on his legs a lot for his living, so he wants to take a little bit more time and make sure. Not that it’s not important to Luke, it’s just two different kind of players. Neither one seems to be awful by any means, being a little bit more cautious with Sam.”
Maddon also said that neither injury will have any impact on their 25-man roster spots for this season. Both Scott and Fuld are coming off seasons marred by injuries and the Rays are hoping they can get healthy on their ways to big years in 2013. It isn’t a good thing that they’re injured already, but the Rays will give them however much they need to recover, and hopefully they’ll be fine when the season gets under way.
Sean Rodriguez is a player who took a lot of heat in 2012 after faltering in an opportunity to win the Rays’ starting shortstop job and then breaking his hand punching a locker. Whether Rodriguez can get back to being a productive player for the Rays is in considerable question- but the good news is he understands exactly the situation he’s in and why he got there.
“I should have been ready for it. I wasn’t,” Rodriguez said. “I got a good opportunity. It wasn’t the best. My at-bats speak for themselves. I’m in the position I’m in because I put myself here. But I’m going to scratch and claw my way out of it.”
Rodriguez is going to be hard-pressed to receive very many starts for the Rays this season given that Yunel Escobar is now the starting shortstop and there’s the whole “quadtoon” at second base with Rodriguez looking like the odd man out. Rodriguez is set to return to a super-utility role and accordingly he has played all over the field so far in spring training, playing centerfield and left field over the past few days after playing neither position in 2012. But Rodriguez is perfectly fine filling such a role and is ready to go out and prove himself as worthy of more playing time. Rodriguez is a player to watch for the Rays this season because he has the talent to make an impact for the Rays, but if he fails, it could spell the end of his tenure in Tampa Bay.