05/02/12 8:15 PM ET
Rhymes to play mainly at third
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Rhymes departed Durham late Tuesday afternoon and he was on the Rays bench in uniform by the bottom of the eighth inning of the Rays' 3-1 win over the Mariners.
"I'm just happy I got there on time," Rhymes said. "Actually, there was some weather coming in, so they left early. So we did get in a little early."
Rhymes, who was the Tigers' Opening Day second baseman in 2011, has some familiarity with third base having played the position during Spring Training for the Rays and he's had six starts at third base for Durham. But he's never played the position during a Major League game.
Rhymes started at third base for the Rays Wednesday night. He smiled when asked if playing third in the Major Leagues is any different than playing the position in the Minor Leagues.
"I'll let you know after the game," Rhymes said. "I don't know. I'm anxious to get out there and check out the turf and the roof. I've played here before, but not third base. ... I'll give it all I have and see what happens."
Longoria had an injured hand during Spring Training, which facilitated Rhymes playing the position more during Grapefruit League games. He said playing different positions was part of the appeal for signing with the Rays on Jan. 19.
"They were going to let me move around and play some different positions," Rhymes said. "It's pretty cool to get that opportunity. That they trust me enough to put me out there."
Players who sign Minor League contracts with invites to Spring Training, as Rhymes did, normally weigh their options for which of the offering teams is the best opportunity. Rhymes was asked if his promotion validated the things the Rays told him prior to signing with the team.
"Yeah, I can't thank them enough for signing me in the offseason, then giving me the opportunity," said Rhymes, who was hitting .231 at Durham. "I wasn't exactly knocking the cover off the ball at Triple-A. You know, but looking at the track record and everything, I can't thank them enough for the opportunity. It's a break.
"You lose Longoria and that's horrible for the team. And I'm not trying to fill his shoes at all. But if I can do anything to help them win a game or two here or there, that's all I'm trying to do."
Rhymes said the biggest challenge of playing third deals with how hard Major Leaguers hit the ball.
"The ball gets on you in a hurry, so you try and knock it down and bounce it over there," Rhymes said. "I was working there [at third] every day [at Durham]. Obviously, it's different when you get in the game, try to get all the plays. It's different. You can work all you want, but when you get in the game, it's different."
Rays manager Joe Maddon called Rhymes "a very nice baseball player."
"From the offensive side of things, he's the kind of guy that doesn't normally swing and miss," Maddon said. "He can hit lefties and righties almost equally well, always going to give you a great effort. He's a very interesting guy for us to have."
According to Maddon, the Rays will use a mix at third that includes Rhymes, Elliot Johnson, Jeff Keppinger and perhaps even Chris Gimenez. In addition, the possibility always exists of picking up a third baseman via trade.
"It's possible we could pick somebody, but it's probably going to be a revolving door," Maddon said. "It's just going to be based on our information and on that particular night what appears to be our best matchup."
Farnsworth pain-free after first throwing exercise
ST. PETERSBURG -- Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow strain) was moved to the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday to make room for Will Rhymes on the 25-man roster, a development that didn't seem to alarm Farnsworth in the least.
"I don't consider it a setback, because they said six to eight [weeks] anyway, so it's basically the same," Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth made 25 sock throws on Tuesday. The exercise involved him going through his throwing motion and throwing the ball from inside a tube sock worn over his pitching arm.
"Everything went well," Farnsworth said. "It's a good step forward."
The exercise was the first time Farnsworth has thrown since he injured his arm in Spring Training.
"I think it went well," said Farnsworth, who reported having no pain.
Farnsworth did express frustration about not being able to play.
"The offseason is time to sit around and not do anything, not during the season," Farnsworth said. "Still, got to stay positive, we're winning and that makes it a whole lot easier to be able to kind of take my time and try not to rush myself. I still have to take it easy and make sure I'm 100 percent when I get back."
'Players and Pooches' calendar on sale Friday
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' first "Players and Pooches" calendar will go on sale Friday, May 4, at Pet Pal Animal Shelter and Pet Pal Veterinary Clinic, as well as the Rays Team Store at Tropicana Field, the Rays Pro Shop and Sales Office in Tampa. The calendar will sell for $15. All proceeds from the sales will go to Pet Pal Animal Shelter.
The 13-month, full-color calendar features Rays Manager Joe Maddon with his Great Dane, Athena, and his English Bulldog, Winston; Evan Longoria and his Boerboel Mastiff, Tatum and Bull Terrier, Jango, both rescues; David Price and his beloved French Bulldog, Astro; and B.J. Upton with Deuce, a Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Pet Pal Animal Shelter is a no-kill, non-profit organization committed to rescuing dogs and cats from animal shelters where they may otherwise be euthanized due to time limitations or lack of socialization or training. Pet Pal is also dedicated to educating the public about the pet overpopulation crisis, the importance of spaying/neutering and responsible pet ownership.
To donate to Pet Pal Animal Shelter or for more information, visit petpalanimalshelter.com or call 727-328-7738.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.