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03/13/12 6:19 PM ET

Brignac making shortstop battle interesting

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Reid Brignac started at shortstop on Tuesday and Sean Rodriguez, who had been out with a sprained left index finger, started at second base.

Manager Joe Maddon then flip-flopped the pair, both of whom are fighting for the starting shortstop job this spring, after three innings.

Both have also been out of the lineup lately -- Rodriguez because of his finger, Brignac for the birth of his son and, separately, a stomach problem.

"We want to get them back on the field at the same time and playing," Maddon said. "The fact they're both comfortable at second base allows us to get at-bats for both of them."

Rodriguez entered the spring as the favorite to win the job based on his strong finish to the 2011 season. However, Brignac has shown some improvement.

"Reid's working better at-bats," Maddon said."He's swinging at better pitches. ... [He's] running the bases pretty well, bunted well the other day. That's why I believe our meetings are so invaluable at the beginning of camp. A lot of the things we've spoken about [to Brignac], it's apparent he's really listened. I've seen some improvement in different areas.

"He's on track. It's really early to say that he's accomplished all these different things. But he's definitely moving in the right direction. Among all the guys, he's probably near the top of working on that list and doing a good job of it."

Rays being cautious with Scott

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Luke Scott made his second start of the spring on Tuesday, when the Rays played to a 7-7 tie with the Orioles, going 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.

Scott, who is working his way back from surgery on his right shoulder, has said that he feels fine physically but that he's reining in his mechanics.

Manager Joe Maddon was asked if Scott's schedule will continue to be "one day on and one day off," and he replied that it's all up to head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield.

"Until Ron tells me, he [can't] do more than one day," Maddon said. "I'd like to get him going two days in a row when we can just to start catching up on at-bats. But for right now I'm fine with this until he feels more comfortable."

Maddon said that Scott's full return involves more than just honing his mechanics.

"It goes beyond the mechanics," Maddon said. "Try not to do too much yet. Also, we can catch him up with some at-bats in a Minor League game later, too. But for right now he's feeling better. I don't want to test it or push it yet. I'll follow Ronnie's lead on it and Luke's lead. ... I don't think he's far off from going two days in a row."

Maddon, Rays shaving heads for cancer benefit

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manager Joe Maddon and any willing Rays players and coaches will shave their heads on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET, prior to their home game against the Phillies, to pay tribute to children battling cancer. Approximately 25 players and staff members have already signed up.

Proceeds from the Rays' efforts will benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital.

"I think there are some [players who] are going to do it that haven't written their name down," Maddon said. "We already have a good turnout. So I think it's going to continue to grow.

"I think it's great getting everybody on board. Of course, it's a win-win for everybody, the kids and their families, and with us, as a group. I like the fact that our guys not only are doing it, but they understand why they are doing it -- the importance of doing it and what it means. And the eventual residue effect is that it can be a galvanizing event for us as a group."

Gates opening early for select games

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Rays will be opening the gates 2 1/2 hours before the first pitch -- rather than two hours -- to help with traffic flow for the following games: March 15 vs. Philadelphia; March 18 vs. Boston; March 21 vs. New York Yankees; March 23 vs. Toronto; March 28 vs. Pittsburgh; March 31 vs. Boston.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.