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Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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Rays Beat: Catcher among few spring issues

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays open spring training in less than two weeks with the Opening Day roster basically set.

That is assuming they are finished moving players on the 25-man roster and are ready to roll with the current group of talent.

It will be interesting to see what happens at catcher since they currently have three on the big-league roster — newcomer Ryan Hanigan as well as Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton.

Lobaton appears to be the odd man out because he makes the least and would be easier to trade. They could role the dice, take all three to Port Charlotte and hope they can move Lobaton if another team suddenly needs a major-league catcher before Opening Day.

With Lobaton out of options, he would have to clear waivers to remain with the organization. The Rays likely would lose him in that case.

Regardless of the outcome, the Rays are set behind the plate.

The rotation will be the same as the one that finished the 2013 season — David Price, Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Archer.

The infield is set — James Loney, Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar and Evan Longoria.

The outfield will be Desmond Jennings, Wil Myers, David DeJesus and Matt Joyce with Brandon Guyer, who is out of options, likely claiming the fifth spot.

Grant Balfour, Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Heath Bell and Juan Carlos Oviedo have six of the seven spots in the bullpen.

So what’s up for grabs? The last spot in the bullpen and the final spot on the bench.

Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke and Brad Boxberger will compete for the final spot in the bullpen.

Sean Rodriguez will serve as an infielder/outfielder.

The leaves one spot, and when you consider the Rays traded Alex Torres, a solid piece in the 2013 bullpen, to the Padres to get Logan Forsythe, Boxberger and three more prospects, you have to think Forsythe is the leader in whatever competition will take place for the sixth infielder.

Forsythe, who spent parts of the past three years with the Padres, can play second base, third and shortstop as well as the two corner outfield spots. He has played center field in the minors and said he has working knowledge of first base though no game experience there at the professional level.

Jayson Nix, who signed a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training this winter, will get a look. Nix can play second, third and short.

But Forsythe has more versatility, and the Rays gave up a good young arm to get him.

More depth

The Rays continue to add depth to the upper tiers of the organization.

The team is expected to announce this week the signing of third baseman Wilson Betemit as well as a handful of players signed to minor-league contracts with invites to spring training. Among that group are right-hander Juan Sandoval, who pitched at Double-A and Triple-A last year, and outfielder Jeremy Moore.

Moore played in eight games with the Angels in 2011.

Betemit, 32, has played for seven teams during his 11-year career, the last two with the Orioles.

More on Fan Fest

While some are not pleased the Rays are charging $125 each for autographs from Price, Longoria and Myers at the Feb. 22 Fan Fest, it should be noted the event is free — free parking and free admission.

That’s not the case for every fan fest around the league.

The Cardinals charged $40 for adults and $10 for children ages 5 to 15 for three-day passes to the Winter Warm Up. They also charged $100 for Yadier Molina’s autograph, $80 for Adam Wainwright, $75 for Matt Holliday and $70 for Michael Wacha.

The Rangers charge $10 admission for adults, $5 for children 13 and younger. While autographs are free, they are limited to the first 5,000 in attendance. Fans can purchase a $300 Fast Pass that moves them to the head of the autograph line.

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