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Tampa Bay Rays: D-Rob surging while Duffy remains sidelined

By Austin Reimann
ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 20: Daniel Robertson #28 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on in the first inning against the Miami Marlins on July 20, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 20: Daniel Robertson #28 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on in the first inning against the Miami Marlins on July 20, 2018 at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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In what may turn into a season long battle for playing time at third base, Daniel Robertson is gaining the upper hand as Matt Duffy finds himself injured yet again.

Matt Duffy entered Spring Training looking healthier than ever having added 20 pounds in the offseason. The weight was admittedly added in an effort to stay healthier over the duration of the long season, something he has struggled with since coming over in the Matt Moore trade. The Tampa Bay Rays third baseman has a history with injuries and now a nagging hamstring injury may be giving Daniel Robertson the upper hand in the battle for the starting third base role.

As Marc Topkin puts it:

"The Rays are not yet, in manager Kevin Cash’s vernacular, “overly” concerned about third baseman Matt Duffy’s lingering left hamstring issue, a reasonable position since they still have 3 ½ weeks until opening day.But they have to have some level of anxiety, given that Duffy had to miss Saturday’s game in Port Charlotte due to tightness just two days after making his week-delayed spring debut on Thursday."

Matt Duffy should be getting anxious as the biggest threat to his job security is absolutely raking early on. So far, Robertson has played five games to Duffy’s one. He has gotten off to a hot start, hitting .538 across 13 at bats with a homer and a pair of doubles.

With playing time at second base rapidly disappearing due to reliability of Joey Wendle and the fantastic start to spring for Brandon Lowe, Robertson will have to find playing time elsewhere. This playing time will likely come at third base, and he is making his case for the majority of the playing time.

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Prior to a season ending thumb injury, Daniel Robertson was on track to challenge Blake Snell and Joey Wendle for the title of team MVP. He seems to have started right where he left off and that should have Duffy looking over his shoulder.

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The longer Duffy remains sidelined while Robertson performs, the more likely it becomes that     D-Rob is named the Opening Day third baseman. Hopefully Duffy can put this behind him in the coming days, but it is reassuring to know that D-Rob is ready to step in and contribute.

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