Tampa Bay Rays
Baldelli's Start In The Outfield Is Delayed
ST. PETERSBURG - As it turned out, it will be several more days before Rocco Baldelli gets a chance to play the outfield in a game situation. Rays manager Joe Maddon had said Tuesday that Baldelli would play right or center field in Wednesday's intrasquad game, but the erstwhile outfielder was penciled in as the DH instead. Chilly weather made even colder by a fierce wind had something to do with the decision, Maddon said, but Baldelli's preference also played a role. "I think it was probably good for the first time to just go out there and swing the bat a little bit," Baldelli said. He said he was asked a few days ago if he would rather play the outfield or DH in his first game action and he said he'd like to DH. It appears he'll get more than one crack at it, too. Maddon said Wednesday afternoon that Baldelli wouldn't play the outfield until "next week at some point."The Rays plan to get Baldelli into at least one Grapefruit League game this weekend as the DH. It's common early in the spring for National League teams to allow the DH in their home games, and the Rays have asked Friday's opponents, the Reds, to do that. They hadn't heard back as of Wednesday, Maddon said, but Sunday's game at the Pirates will feature the DH. Add that to a home game Saturday and games against AL opposition Monday and Tuesday and there will be plenty of opportunities for Baldelli and Cliff Floyd to ease their way in. Baldelli didn't get much action Wednesday, grounding into a double play and reaching on an error in his two at-bats. Before each plate appearance, he did some running along the foul lines to make sure he was completely warmed up, and he said he felt fine throughout the day. AYBAR ARRIVES: Willy Aybar had waited long enough to join the Rays; he jumped right into Wednesday's intrasquad game after passing his physical. "He was eager to get out there," Maddon said. Aybar stepped in to play three innings at third base and went 1-for-2 at the plate. "I just want to get out there and start playing baseball," Aybar said through interpreter Nelson Montes de Oca. "I'm excited to be on a new team and show my teammates and the manager and the front office what I can do." Before he was even asked about the domestic violence charge, later dropped, that kept him in police custody in the Dominican Republic for nearly a week, Aybar apologized to the Rays' organization for being a distraction. "I'm very excited to be here in spring training finally and I'm ready to meet my teammates and gain their trust," he said. PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price said he felt fine Wednesday after skipping his scheduled appearance in the previous day's intrasquad game because his shoulder stiffened up. The Rays were pleased Price didn't take any chances. "It was another instance of him being very smart to say something when he did," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. Friedman said Price likely would play catch and see team orthopedist Koco Eaton this morning, but the team was "optimistic" there was no serious trouble. BAD BREAK: SS Reid Brignac suffered a fractured fifth toe on his right foot when he was hit by a Chris Mason pitch in Tuesday's intrasquad game. He is expected to be sidelined up to a week. Brignac was walking a bit gingerly Wednesday but wasn't wearing a cast or brace. "There really isn't much you can do for it," he said. "I've just got to wait it out for a couple more days and get the swelling out." NOTEWORTHY: Baseball America's annual Top 100 prospects list features seven Rays, led by No. 2 overall prospect Evan Longoria. The others: Price (No. 10), Jake McGee (15), Wade Davis (17), Brignac (39), Desmond Jennings (59) and Jeff Niemann (99). ... The Rays are expected to face RHP Homer Bailey in their Grapefruit League opener at the Reds, followed by RHP Dustin McGowan on Saturday in their home opener against the Blue Jays and Pirates LHP Paul Maholm on Sunday in Bradenton. ... Jae Kuk Ryu agreed to a one-year contract, leaving only B.J. Upton and Scott Dohmann unsigned.
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