PORT CHARLOTTE — Second baseman Ben Zobrist fielded ground balls and took batting practice on the field Wednesday morning for the first time since suffering a lower back injury the day before the first full-squad workout.
Zobrist fielded about 50 grounders then took four rounds of BP, swinging from both sides of the plate. He expects to be allowed to run the bases today.
“All those things are exciting for me, to finally get to put the uni on and go outside and do stuff with the other guys,” he said. “I look forward to ramp it up in the next couple of days as we get into playing games.”
And when will that be?
“I would say I’m probably a couple of games behind everybody else, 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.
Rays manager Joe Maddon indicated Tuesday that Zobrist would not play in Friday’s Grapefruit League opener against the visiting Orioles. He said Wednesday he didn’t expect Zobrist to play until after the weekend.
“I like early next week,” Maddon said. “I like that phrase.”
Zobrist said he did not have an MRI or have X-rays taken on his lower back after he strained it while working out in the weight room Feb. 19.
“They said it wasn’t necessary based on my symptoms, because I didn’t have any numbness or pain down my leg. It was all localized,” Zobrist said. “They just wanted to get the inflammation out of my back.”
Zobrist said he feels tightness in his back, but added it would not keep him out of the lineup if this were September and the Rays were in the playoff hunt.
“I can definitely tell that it’s tight, but there’s no pain,” he 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.”
Myers and MTV
RF Wil Myers will be featured this season on a new TV series “Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave,” a joint venture between MLB and MTV2.
The weekly 30-minute show will give fans a look at the off-field lives of baseball players, including Myers and Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez — the reigning rookies of the year in their respective leagues.
“I had an awesome time shooting with MTV this offseason. I hope all the fans have as much fun watching ‘Off the Bat’ as I had being part of it,” Myers said in a release.
The visa 3
It appears as if RHP Juan Sandoval’s visa issues have been resolved and he will report today to Rays camp.
RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo and IF Wilson Betemit are still in limbo as they await their work visas back in the Dominican.
Maddon said he did get a report that all three had been working out.
“You just want to confirm it,” Maddon said. “You thought they would be. You know these guys wouldn’t be negligent, right, with a chance of making the club, they’d want to come here ready.”
LHP Erik Bedard will start Friday against the Orioles. LHP Cesar Ramos, who was originally listed as the starter, will pitch an inning of relief. ... LHP Matt Moore is scheduled to start Monday’s game against the visiting Phillies. ... RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he is about three weeks from beginning his throwing program as he rehabs from elbow surgery. ... Because of the Rays’ charity golf tournament in Bradenton, today’s workout will be open to the public from 9 to 10 a.m.