2/26/2014 2:50 P.M. ET
Back improving, Zobrist resumes baseball activities
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ben Zobrist, dealing with a lower back issue, continued to make progress on Wednesday toward a return to full activity.
The Rays' second baseman took approximately 20 swings from each side of the plate and also fielded ground balls.
Zobrist said he was excited to get on the field.
"To finally get to put the uni on and go outside and do stuff with the other guys ..." Zobrist said. "I look forward to ramp it up in the next couple of days as we get into playing games."
Zobrist estimated that he would be a couple of games behind his teammates.
"So they'll either let me play probably Sunday, or the few days after that will be the first game I get a chance to play," he said.
Zobrist did not run the bases Wednesday.
"That's one of the things that they didn't want me to do today," Zobrist said. "We'll probably do that tomorrow or the next day and just make sure I can stop and cut and do all those things without feeling anything in my back."
If this injury had occurred during the regular season, Zobrist allowed that he "probably" would have rushed to make a quick return. However, Spring Training is a different situation.
"We're taking a conservative approach when it comes to rehab, and since this is a day where everyone is standing around a lot, there's no need for me to be standing and doing nothing out here," Zobrist said. "So they're making sure when I'm out here I'm always moving and keeping everything loose."
Zobrist said his back is still tight.
"But there's no pain," Zobrist said. "There's no limited range of motion or anything like that. I think if I was standing out here for a week, I would probably feel tight regardless of having any back issue or not. It's one of those things that loosens up when you play every day, get on your feet every day and do the normal things we do during Spring Training."
Zobrist has not had an MRI or X-rays.
"They said it wasn't necessary based on my symptoms, because I didn't have any numbness or pain down my leg," Zobrist said. "It was all localized. They just wanted to get the inflammation out of my back."
When asked about Zobrist, Rays manager Joe Maddon noted there was "plenty of time" for him to get ready for the season.
Joyce, Guyer looking to make mark this spring
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays' outfield appears set with David DeJesus in left, Desmond Jennings in center and Wil Myers in right, which leaves Matt Joyce and Brandon Guyer in interesting situations.
Though Joyce will be used in the outfield some, he'll most likely spend a lot of time in the DH slot.
"Everybody knows where I sit, where I stand," said Joyce when asked about his situation. "How I feel about everything, but none of that matters. At the end of the day, the team wants to win and they're going to do what's best for the team and, for me, I'm part of the team. I'm going to do whatever it takes to make the team win and successful."
Despite his situation, Joyce appears relaxed while going about his paces preparing for the coming season. At this early point of Spring Training, the left-handed-hitting Joyce noted that he's simply "looking for that feel" with the bat. "I want to find the consistency and the comfort. Just that slot, that nice swing slot that I know I can have and get back to what I do well and what made me successful."
Guyer spent the 2013 season at Triple-A Durham, where he hit .301 with seven home runs, 41 RBIs and 22 steals. His .301 mark was fifth best in the International League.
"I don't think  was a total representation of what I can do," Guyer said. "I don't think the power was there. But the speed was there. I played really good defense. So I felt like I brought a lot to the table and that I can bring even more this year."
Guyer, who is out of options, has struggled with injuries the past two seasons. He missed 27 games after he fractured his right middle finger last season, and he missed the final four months of the 2012 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
"My shoulder feels even better, stronger, more flexible," Guyer said. "So I feel like I bring even more to the table this year. We have to see what happens."
• The Rays made a change for Friday's Grapefruit League opener against the Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park. Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard will start the game, rather than Cesar Ramos.
• Right-handers Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval and infielder Wilson Betemit still have not reported to camp due to visa issues. Maddon did note that he's heard Oviedo has been throwing to stay ready.
• The Rays will start their workout early on Thursday, and they'll be finished early (by 10 a.m.) as the team will participate in the annual Rays Charity Golf Tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Bradenton. The workout will be open to the public from 9-10 a.m. ET.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.