Could Luke Scott See Time in the Outfield for the Rays?

By David Hill

Taking a look at the Rays preliminary 25 man roster for Opening Day, it is noticeable that there are only four players listed as outfielders in Desmond Jennings, Matthew Joyce, Sam Fuld and Ben Zobrist. Kelly Johnson is likely to see time in the outfield as well this year, as he has played a bit in left during Spring Training, while Zobrist will likely see time at second. However, it appears as though outfield depth may be a concern throughout the year.

Yet, there may be someone else on the roster that can play in the outfield, having spent a decent amount of time in the outfield over his career. Luke Scott originally came up as a left fielder, and played exclusively in left and first base after 2007. He also has experience playing in right, having appeared in 118 games there in his career, although none of those appearances have come since 2007.

However, there are potential problems with the idea of playing Scott in the outfield. He has not appeared in left since July 2011, when he sustained an injury to his shoulder which ended his season and derailed him for much of 2012 as well. Scott has said that his should finally feels great, but he also suffered an oblique strain and back spasms last season, and he’s even dealing with a minor calf issue right now. None of those lend themselves to any confidence that Scott could play a significant role in the outfield.

There are signs Scott he could factor into the Rays outfield rotation at some point in 2013. He has already appeared in the outfield, playing in right during Spring Training for the first time since 2007. Also, it is possible that the Rays put Evan Longoria at DH occasionally during the season, in order to keep his bat in the lineup and give him a bit of a rest, and if Scott keeps hitting as he has thus far during the spring, the Rays will be looking for ways to get his bat into the lineup even with the DH spot is unavailable.

While it is unlikely that Scott will be playing in the outfield for an extended period of time this upcoming season, he may end up getting into a few games in the field. Given his injury history,Scott seems to be best-served as a regular DH, but you know the Rays won’t let his ability to also play at first base in addition to the corner outfield spots go to waste. And if Luke Scott can stay healthy, he may actually end up being the backup first baseman/corner outfielder the Rays had been rumored to be searching for all offseason.