PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays' first full-squad workout of the spring Thursday hit a little snag when 2B Ben Zobrist was kept out of drills because of a lower back injury.
Zobrist said he “tweaked” his back Wednesday while working out in the weight room at the Charlotte Sports Park.
“It's just tight and sore right now,” Zobrist said. “Just going to have to wait a couple of days before I get started. It's not what I wanted, but obviously it's just a couple of days here before we even start spring training games.”
Zobrist said he expects to play Feb. 28 when the Rays open the Grapefruit League schedule against the visiting Orioles.
“We're hoping it's not going to take too long,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It's unfortunate he had a bit of an accident there. It's truly the 'one moment at a time.' We'll see when he comes in (today), but (head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield) does not anticipate a lengthy kind of a problem or concern.”
Zim's at it again
Don Zimmer, the Rays special assistant, attended the team's workout Thursday and kicked off his 66th year in professional baseball.
Zimmer, who is undergoing dialysis, was driving around the complex and watched the workouts from the comforts of a golf cart.
“He's starting to look as good as he did on that old Brooklyn Dodger baseball card,” Maddon said. “He's lost all that weight. He's got a good look in his face. He's got that bounce about him. It was great to have him down here, and the players really, really dig having him down here.”
Maddon kept his annual pre-first full-squad workout speech to “14 minutes and change” and felt he covered everything he planned on covering.
“When it comes to both quality and brevity, I probably nailed it,” he said.
Maddon said he talked to the players about winning the seven-inning game and doing the simple things right. He also talked about what he believes is a well-balanced team from the bullpen to the lineup to the bench.
Maddon's message was interrupted at the 10-minute mark by coaches Tom Foley, Dave Martinez and Stan Boroski, who fainted on cue.
“Because that's when I was getting to the point where I was talking about the stuff the coaches heard from me over and over and over again,” Maddon said.
He was very impressed with the way Boroski sold his faint.
“Stosh hit the ground so hard I could hear it,” Maddon said.
RHP Jake Odorizzi is the lone Ray on Baseball America's top 100 prospects in baseball. He is ranked 67th.
That is another illustration of how the Rays' minor-league system, once dotted with high-end prospects, is a little thin at the upper levels of the system. The Rays' top prospects are mostly in the lower levels.
RHPs Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval and IF Wilson Betemit are the only players who have yet to report to camp. All three are still in their native Dominican Republic because of visa issues. ... RHP Chris Archer will speak Tuesday at the Academy, an alternative school in Port Charlotte that helps students who otherwise wouldn't attend high school. ... Fan Fest is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Tropicana Field. Parking and attendance is free.