Rays News and Notes: Rodriguez Named Starting SS

By Robbie Knopf

In a move I will unremittingly disagree with, Sean Rodriguez has been named the Rays’ starting shortstop over Reid Brignac. The bottom line here is that the Rays know what they’re getting with Rodriguez while Brignac is much more of a wild card. We discussed both players today here at RCG (here and here), with me of course making the wrong prediction. Joe Maddon talked to the Tampa Bay Times and told them that he was impressed by Rodriguez’s improved defense, something I simply did not see when I saw Rodriguez during spring training, and he also believes that Rodriguez is a better hitter than Brignac. I don’t believe that.

Reid Brignac blew his chance in 2011. I understand. But what happened was that he started off slowly and had bad luck the rest of the season. He never got comfortable. He traded his power and plate discipline to try for more hits and he still could not get his average up. Brignac just looked so comfortable in spring training and he played well. He suffered a right foot injury, but before the injury he was the Rays’ second-best hitter in the spring behind Desmond Jennings, and after struggling for a few days, he played well the past couple of days. Reid Brignac still has the upside. He has the ability to be better than Rodriguez is every facet of the game of baseball- other than versatility and maybe speed. He has shown more power, a better line drive swing, and he is undisputedly better on defense. With another chance, maybe he could seize his upside.

Reid Brignac will get an opportunity at some point in 2012. Maybe this time he’ll finally seize it. The Rays don’t believe in him. He has to change that. At this point, all Brignac can do is be ready to be play and play well when he gets the opportunity, and if his upside begins to show the playing time will come. But for now, the Rays will stick with the certainty of Sean Rodriguez, a player they know is a decent big league shortstop, and we’ll just have to see what happens.

On another front, the Rays got good news about Kyle Farnsworth, as he said that his elbow injury is simply a strain and although he could miss significant time n April, he will almost definitely not need surgery. The Rays also got clarity about when B.J. Upton comes back as Joe Maddon said he should return during the Rays’ first road trip of the season from April 10th to April 19th.