Heading into Spring Training, Jesus Sucre was a long shot to make the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day roster. Well, he did just that.
When the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Jesus Sucre, and invited him to camp as a non roster invitee, it barely moved the needle. Sucre was a solid defensive catcher, but had displayed absolutely nothing at the plate, with a lifetime .209/.246/.276 batting line in 264 plate appearances. He was a camp body, someone that would stick around for a while, then head to AAA to start the season.
Instead, Sucre started hitting and really never stopped. While presumed starter Curt Casali struggled, Sucre put together a solid .267/.303/.500 batting line, hitting two homers. Even though Luke Maile performed better with the bat, Sucre earned rave reviews from the pitching staff, including Chris Archer, for his work with them. As such, it was not much of a surprise when the Rays announced that Sucre would make the Opening Day roster.
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That hard work factored into the decision to keep Sucre on the roster. Kevin Cash praised the catcher for his effort, indicating that it was a major part of why he remained on the roster. However, Cash also stated that Derek Norris will be playing almost every day, meaning that Sucre will not see the field all too often.
Of course, the expectations were that Sucre would be in Durham by now. While Norris is slated to play virtually every day, he still needs to produce with the bat. As he had a meager .186/.255/.328 batting line last season, that is not a given. The Nationals were also forced to eat a portion of his salary after being unable to trade Norris earlier, perhaps casting doubts on a bounceback season.
If Norris struggles again, Jesus Sucre will see a bigger role with the Tampa Bay Rays. Given that he has already surpassed expectations, Sucre could surprise once more when he gets the chance.