Spring Training Preview: The Shortstops
Yesterday I highlighted what could be an intense spring battle for the second catcher spot. Today, I will take a look at a battle that could be just as big, but this one has an impact on the everyday lineup. The Rays have three guys who could make a strong play at their fair share of playing time at shortstop. The incumbents Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez as well as newcomer Jeff Keppinger could all make a case for the starting job.
A Rodriguez and Brignac platoon is probably the leader for the shortstop position heading into the spring. Either one of those two could win the starting spot outright with a good spring. If Brignac proves he has lost his uppercut and can hit consistently in the spring, he could be a very good candidate for the starting role.
Rodriguez has a lesser chance of getting the full time spot considering his flexibility worse defense at the shortstop spot, but still could make a run at the starting role. Even without a starting spot, Rodriguez will still get a good amount of starts, whether it be second, short, first or outfield. Rodriguez could allow Ben Zobrist to move to the outfield against lefties to give Matt Joyce days off.
Then there is Jeff Keppinger. The newcomer has always been a utility guy, but his bat could be good enough to get him the spot. He has a career .281 average, so if Brignac and Rodriguez give the Rays more of the same in March, Keppinger could work his way into the lineup. As a righty, he could also work his way into a platoon with Reid Brignac to give both of them a good amount of starts.
On the non-roster invitee list, Will Rhymes could have an outside chance of making the team. That would mean that either Brignac or Rodriguez would head to Durham, but Rhymes is a veteran and flexible, so with an outstanding spring he could make a play at one of their roster spots. This scenario has a very slim chance of happening, but it is still possible.