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Rays

Lobaton the No. 2 catcher as Rays' roster takes shape

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:13 AM
PORT CHARLOTTE -

The Tampa Bay Rays reassigned C Chris Gimenez to minor-league camp before Wednesday's 6-4 win against the Pirates, leaving Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton as the only catchers in camp.

So, barring a late arrival from outside the organization, Lobaton appears to have made the Opening Day roster.

"A lot of it has to do with what Lobaton did last year, not necessarily with us but in Triple A," manager Joe Maddon said. "We have a lot of good stuff on him, whether it's hitting the ball and how hard he consistently hits the ball, his throwing ability and pitchers like to throw to him. That's been the word on the street. … There's still parts of his game we (have) to continue to improve up, but a lot of that is based on research from last year."

Gimenez displayed his versatility this spring, playing first base, third base and left field in addition to catching. He said he wished he had more time behind the plate but was not upset with his opportunity.

"I think there is plenty of opportunity here, "Gimenez said. "Just because it's not at the onset doesn't mean it can't happen at any point during the season. You have to take that kind of attitude into it. You can handle it two ways. You can go down and be a Bitter Bob or you can go down and be your normal self and get yourself done. I don't plan on being Bitter Bob."

Bullpen finalized

The Rays finalized the bullpen Wednesday when RHP Brandon Gomes was optioned to minor-league camp.

That leaves RHP Kyle Farnsworth, RHP Joel Peralta, RHP Fernando Rodney, LHP J.P. Howell, LHP Jake McGee, RHP Wade Davis and RHP Burke Badenhop.

Gomes, whose start to camp was slowed as he recovered from offseason surgery to repair a disk in his lower back, has not been able to sustain his low-90s velocity or find that sharp break on his breaking pitches.

"I kind of figured it," Gomes said. "You could tell with the numbers (15.19 ERA) and having not thrown well during the spring, it only makes sense. I'm looking at it as an opportunity to get everything worked out and get back to where I need to be to help the team out when they need me. I'll go down there and get back to where I was at the end of (2011). I need probably another couple outings. From watching video, I don't feel I'm far off."

Rotation order set

The Rays also decided on the order of the rotation. RHP James Shields will start on Opening Day, followed by LHP David Price, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, LHP Matt Moore and RHP Jeff Niemann.

"We're just not thinking about the first series," Maddon said. "Thinking about pretty much the month of work ahead, and so we looked at all the different variables involved."

This order has Shields, Price and Hellickson facing the Yankees in the season-opening series and Moore starting the first road game April 10 in Detroit.

"It think it's awesome, first game in Detroit," Moore said. "Just thinking about it, it's probably going to be a little chilly there. I'm pretty excited knowing what game I'm going to pitch now, and now it's just a matter of getting through the rest of spring training."

Brignac to return

SS Reid Brignac was cleared to resume playing in big-league games and is scheduled to come off the bench today against the Phillies in Clearwater.

"It was what I was hoping to hear," Brignac said.

Brignac, limited to minor-league games since developing plantar fasciitis in his right foot, said he has a slight tear in the tissue and was told he can play as long as he can tolerate the pain.

"The way I feel now it's tolerable," he said.

Game stuff

Price pitched a spring-high seven innings in Wednesday's win. He allowed two runs on six hits, struck out five and walked two.

DH Luke Scott hit his second home run of the spring and drove in three runs.

Rodney was struck on his right forearm by a line drive in the ninth inning and suffered a contusion. The injury is not believed to be serious.

The Rays are 4-0 against the Pirates, representing half of their eight victories this spring.

Noteworthy

There has not been a change to Tony Tufano's condition, according to his daughter-in-law Shannon Moore. Tufano, 72, the motorcyclist allegedly struck by an SUV driven by Rays minor-leaguer Matt Bush, remains in a medically induced coma while healing from multiple injuries. … RHPs Marquis Fleming and Ryan Reid were told they will not make the team but will remain in the bullpen for the remainder of camp.

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