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Tampa Bay Rays banking on DH Scott at reduced rate

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

The Rays decided in late October not to pick up the $6 million option on designated hitter Luke Scott because they didn't want to lock themselves into one position so early in the offseason. But with spring training less than a month away and options outside the organization dwindling, they decided to bring Scott back for a second season at a reduced rate.

The signing is expected to be announced this week.

It will go down as one of those risky moves the Rays are often forced to make.

Scott will be the first to say he wasn't pleased with his production in 2012 — a .229 average, 14 home runs and 55 RBIs. In fact, he stood in front of his locker on the final day of the regular season and said as much.

Though surgery on his right shoulder in August 2011 played a role in his lack of 2012 production, Scott would not use that as an excuse. Scott did say he felt his shoulder will be 100 percent this April, when he is 20 months removed from the surgery.

The Rays, apparently, are banking on that, as well.

Scott had his health issues in 2012 — the recovery from the surgery cut into spring training, he had hamstring issues in April and made two trips to the disabled list, once for back stiffness and also for an oblique strain.

He suffered through a team-record 0-for-41 slump (and still managed to hit 32 points higher than first baseman Carlos Peña). Scott was hitting .273 with six home runs and a team-high 21 RBIs through his first 23 games. Then came the slump, the back injury and his first trip to the disabled list.

The Rays are hoping a healthy Scott will produce like he did during his three healthy seasons in Baltimore when he averaged 25 home runs.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is still searching for more offense.

Unless Friedman finds another bat — and the candidates aren't that enticing (Carlos Lee, maybe?) — Scott will be used primarily at DH. He can also help in the outfield and at first base, which is how the Rays intended to use him in 2012. He played six games at first base last season.

Manager Joe Maddon can use infielders Sean Rodriguez and Ryan Roberts at DH on days when he wants a right-hander at that spot. Shelley Duncan, signed to a minor-league contract last week, also could fill that role should he make the team.

A deep bullpen

With RHP James Shields and his yearly accumulation of 200-plus innings off to Kansas City, the Rays will need a bullpen as deep or deeper than the one that was nearly lights out in 2012.

The bullpen picked up 466 innings last season. Relievers likely will be asked to pick up more in 2013.

That's why the addition of RHP Jamey Wright could prove big.

RHP Wade Davis, who was included in the trade to Kansas City with Shields, gave the Rays 70 1/3 innings during his first season in the bullpen. That was the second-highest workload from a reliever behind RHP Fernando Rodney's 74 2/3 . RHP Joel Peralta pitched 67 innings and would have exceeded 70 had he not been suspended eight games for having pine tar on his glove.

Wright, a 17-year-vet who signed a minor-league deal last week with an invite to spring training, moved to the bullpen fulltime in 2008 while with the Texas Rangers. He gave the Rangers 84 1/3 innings that season. His yearly totals since: 79, 58 1/3 , 68 1/3 and 67 2/3 .

Noteworthy

RHP Chris Archer partnered with Good Sports, a nationwide organization that provides athletic equipment to disadvantage youth, to donate $58,000 to the Wake County (North Carolina) Boys and Girls Club. … Rays equipment manager Chris Westmoreland and his crew will pack the equipment trucks and head to Port Charlotte on Wednesday. … OF Wil Myers said he intends to report to camp Feb. 13, the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.

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