Rays Notes: Monday Lineup, Luke Scott Injury Update, Backup Catcher Competition
By Robbie Knopf
With a win and an Orioles loss on Monday, the Rays would take over first place in the Grapefruit League. What does mean? Not very much. But if you’re going to play the games, you might as well win, and the Rays have been doing that quite a bit lately on their way to a 7-3 record. Here’s the Rays’ lineup as they look to continue that today versus the Boston Red Sox.
Mike Fontenot, LF
Ryan Roberts, 2B
Sean Rodriguez, CF
Shelley Duncan, 1B
Jack Cust, DH
Chris Gimenez, C
Wil Myers, RF
Cole Figueroa, 3B
Tim Beckham, SS
Jeremy Hellickson, SP
This lineup doesn’t exactly have the Rays’ star power, but it’s still a very interesting lineup featuring a couple players Rays fans will certainly look forward to see in Myers and Hellickson and then a couple of players in Duncan and Cust competing for a backup role on the Rays. Sean Rodriguez is also playing centerfield for the second day in a row as the Rays try to increase his versatility, especially given that Desmond Jennings is the only true centerfielder left on the Rays roster, with Sam Fuld more comfortable in a corner spot. But the player that stands out the most has to be Mike Fontenot in the leadoff spot. Fontenot, a second baseman by trade, his a longshot to make the Rays’ roster, but given that he’s batting leadoff and that the Rays are trying him out in left field, a position he hasn’t played a single time in the major leagues, that has to bode well for him moving forward. This should be a fun game, and hopefully Rays fans will get the satisfaction of watching their team beat the Red Sox, even in watered-down spring training form.
The big Rays news yesterday was that Luke Scott unfortunately left the Rays’ spring training game versus the Twins with tightness in his hamstring. Luckily, though, it seems like Scott is going to be OK, as Marc Topkin wrote about in today’s Tampa Bay Times.
"“The muscle’s just tight,” Scott said. “I think (it was the) cold day, a little bit of fatigue from working my legs. I worked my legs pretty hard this week. I’ve had stuff like this many times before. I’m not worried.”Neither was manager Joe Maddon, who said “he’s fine — honestly” and the decision to remove Scott after his first at-bat was “totally precautionary,” that “when you hear tightness on a cold day like (Sunday), you just want to get him out of there.”"
Scott’s 2012 was derailed by injuries, and the Rays brought him back hoping that those issues were mostly behind him. Hopefully this is just a momentary blip and Scott is primed for a strong 2013 season.
Topkin also discussed the Rays’ competition for their backup catcher role, which could get especially intense now that Jose Molina has left Rays camp to join the Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic. Both players are “big Puerto Rico fans” in the WBC hoping that Molina’s PR squad can advance and give them more time to prove themselves. Both players are excited for the opportunity.
"“With Molina gone, yeah, this is a big chance for me to be able to play more to show Joe and to show the team I’m ready to stay in the big leagues,” Lobaton said.“I want to show them I’ve been working my butt off,” he said. “I’m antsy to get in there. Hopefully (Molina’s absence) is a good opportunity for that to happen. Not that I don’t want to play other positions, because that has a value in its own right.”"
The Rays’ backup catcher is going to mean quite a bit more to the Rays than to other teams since Molina isn’t a true starter, and hopefully the Rays can find a stable solution to split time with him and find themselves with at least a marginally better situation at catcher than what we saw last season.