02/27/2013 4:50 PM ET
Rodriguez could see time at first against lefties
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Sean Rodriguez played first base in the late innings of Monday afternoon's 6-3 win over the Red Sox. Manager Joe Maddon noted that seeing Rodriguez wearing a first baseman's mitt could become a common site this season.
The Rays manager said Rodriguez will likely play the position some against left-handers, giving the left-handed hitting James Loney a break.
"You have to figure with Longo at third, Escobar at short, Ryan Roberts at second, me at first, that gives you two extra right-handed bats in the lineup [against a left-hander]," Rodriguez said.
He chuckled recalling the first time he played first base in the Major Leagues in 2010 for the Rays.
"Zo [Ben Zobrist] was nursing a bad back," Rodriguez said. "And Los [Carlos Pena] rolled his ankle and Joe just came up to me and said, 'You ever played first?'" Rodriguez said. "I said, 'Yeah, yeah.' In reality, I really hadn't, but I had to make him feel confident about throwing me over there. I felt confident going over there."
Rodriguez understands that playing first base requires certain skills, but he sounded confident about having the necessary tools to execute whatever needs to be done.
"I'm not saying [playing first is] easy or anything," Rodriguez said. "But if I can play second, short and third, I can play first. Just a bigger glove and you have to remember to come out to the mound on base hits with a runner on second.
"That was the only thing I was worried about. I had to remind myself to do that. For the most part, I understood how to hold them on, how to come off the bag, how to look in to see if they want me to cover the line. It makes sense."
One thing is certain, Rodriguez is definitely excited about being a consideration at first.
"Whatever is going to get you your ABs," he said.
Johnson gets test run in left field
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Kelly Johnson is expected to play a lot of second base this season, but he'll see time in left field, as well.
"This is everything we had talked about in the offseason with Andrew [Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations] a lot and then all of a sudden Kelly's a Ray," manager Joe Maddon said. "We talked about it in our meetings with him. That's part of what we do. We start to see guys moving around and being comfortable with it all, so it's going to be fun to watch.
"Listen, he's been a really good second baseman in the big leagues. This is something that I think is definitely going to help us. And I believe also it's going to be helpful to him, career-wise, by being able to develop more employment security by being able to do more things, whether it's with the Rays or possibly with someone else in the future. I just think it benefits him and us."
Johnson played left field Wednesday against the Pirates in Bradenton. He looked smooth playing a ball Pedro Alvarez hit to the wall in the second inning. Rather than run into the wall trying to make a catch that he wasn't likely to make, he stayed back and waited for the rebound, then threw to second.
"I didn't think I could catch it, I knew there was a better chance of throwing him [out]," Johnson said. "Wish I would have had a little cleaner exchange, maybe grab it with a bare hand. But I felt all right out there, didn't feel too much like a fish out of water."
• Manager Joe Maddon said a fairly large roster cut should take place in the next day or two in advance of Minor League camp opening on Saturday.
• The Rays will soon be saying goodbye to the seven players from the organization headed to the World Baseball Classic. When asked if there were some last-minute baseball things the players wanted to do before leaving, Maddon noted that the following:
"[Ben] Zobrist wants to play a little more extensively the next couple of days, so we'll probably be amenable to that. [Jose Molina] wants to catch two days in a row and we're going to do that. Pitching-wise, nothing really. You saw [Fernando] Rodney yesterday. Alex [Torres] is fine and so is Cesar [Ramos]. So there's nothing really different about that. The biggest concern was to give back-to-back games to the position players and that's Zobrist and Molina.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.