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Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017
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Tampa Bay Rays

Roberts will play key role

PORT CHARLOTTE - Rays manager Joe Maddon came up with a word Friday to describe the four players who will play second base this season. If two players form a "platoon," than four players form a "quadtoon," he said. The quadtoon will consist of Kelly Johnson, Ryan Roberts, Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez. Of the four, Roberts is the only one who is not expected to see time in the outfield. "Primarily on the infield," Maddon said when asked where Roberts will play this season. "There are a lot of different things we can do there." The versatility of the group, he said, allows for a lot of options and flexibility with his bench.
"We like to pinch-hit," Maddon said. "We're not afraid to do those kinds of things – switch it up based on handedness (whether they're facing a left- or righthanded pitcher). So, he's going to be a really important part of what we're doing this year, also." Roberts, who avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $2.95 million contract for this season, said he was happy to have the opportunity to return to the Rays. "(I'm) excited, definitely, to be back," Roberts said. "After spending two months here, getting to play for Joe and see the guys, it was an atmosphere that I really wanted to be a part of, and to get everything worked out and be able to come back was a huge blessing for me." Maddon said Roberts will see time this season at first, second and third base. UTL Ben Zobrist will act as the backup shortstop for Yunel Escobar. Roberts played second and third with the Rays last season. He said he's not opposed to moving around the infield. "Whatever works," he said. Fuld happy to be healthy OF Sam Fuld reported and said he is happy that his right wrist is not an issue after surgery to repair ligaments in the wrist cost him the first 96 games of 2012. "Last year was the first time I really missed any significant time. It's an experience I don't want to repeat," he said. "It was frustrating last year; with all the injuries we had I would have had an opportunity to play quite a bit." Fuld will have the same opportunity this year, though where and when will be determined on a game-by-game basis. "I honestly don't think about it too much," he said when asked what he thought his role might be. "Two years ago, I was the fifth outfielder, and in a week I was a starter. For me, it doesn't do a lot of good to just speculate. Obviously, we have great outfielders and we have a lot of versatile infielders who can play the outfield. Two years with Joe, it's like you learn it's hard to really predict. If (3B Evan Longoria) were playing center field on Opening Day it wouldn't surprise anybody. Well, maybe a little bit." Decision time for Peralta RHP Joel Peralta will announce his decision today on whether or not he will play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. It didn't sound as if he would, but Peralta wanted to talk with Dominican team officials Friday before making the announcement. His stiff neck was better Friday, permitting him to play catch. He still has not thrown a bullpen session in camp. Almost everyone In addition to Fuld, OF Rich Thompson, INF Mike Fontenot and 1B/OF Leslie Anderson reported to camp Friday. That leaves DH Luke Scott, Escobar, SS Hak-Ju Lee and 1B/OF Shelley Duncan as those who have yet to report. Position players are scheduled to report today, with the first full squad workout set for Sunday. Also, RHP Dane De La Rosa, who cleared waivers and was reassigned to Triple-A Durham on Monday, has yet to report. Noteworthy Single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Feb. 23 at raysbaseball.com. They will go on sale at area ticket locations at 10 a.m. on Feb. 25. … Because of today's Fan Fest at Tropicana Field, the Rays will begin their workout at 8:45 a.m. and finish at 10:25 a.m. Roger Mooney
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