Rays journal: Matt Duffy has ‘zero worries,’ Daniel Robertson honors dad, Wilson Ramos slims down

MARC TOPKIN    |   TimesMatt Duffy, finally healthy,  takes swings Monday at Rays camp in Port Charlotte.
MARC TOPKIN | TimesMatt Duffy, finally healthy, takes swings Monday at Rays camp in Port Charlotte.
Published February 12
Updated February 12

PORT CHARLOTTE — Matt Duffy knows what Rays fans are thinking.
Really, he does.

"If they roll their eyes when they hear my name, I don't blame them," he said. "I'd do the same thing."

With Duffy — finally — past the left foot injury, surgery, complications, second procedure and slow recovery that led to him missing all of last season, his name should be heard plenty this year.

Especially since the Rays have big plans, targeting Duffy to replace traded franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria at third base and to hit at or near the top of the order, pending what they do with CF Kevin Kiermaier.

Having made it back on the field for a handful of instructional league games in September, Duffy did an extensive winter workout regimen that included work with a running coach, Rob Nelson, who specializes in baseball-specific drills.

As a result, Duffy said he can do anything, and put as much force into the ground as necessary, with no anxiety, needing this spring just to build up stamina. He worked out Monday with about 40 other early reporters at the Charlotte Sports Park.

"Zero worries," he said. "I feel outstanding."

He knows Rays fans haven't seen much since he was acquired in August 2016 from the Giants. And he is confident that will change.

"I was just so pumped coming out here" Monday, he said. "I'm just excited."

Number of the day

28 The new one for INF Daniel Robertson, in honor of his father, who wore it when he played and died of lung cancer in 2013. Robertson picks 28 when it's available; he wore 29 last year. Also of note, Robertson took over the locker Longoria had used the past nine years.

Best shape of their lives

Veteran C Wilson Ramos reported looking noticeably stronger and more athletic, having dropped about 15 pounds heading into the second of his two-year deal and making a team-high $10.5 million. … INF Willy Adames looked fitter and faster, having worked out in Orlando with Indians SS Francisco Lindor, Reds CF Billy Hamilton and others under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

Happy to be here

OF/DH Corey Dickerson heard, mostly through family, the rumors he may be traded during the winter. Now that he has made it to Port Charlotte, he doesn't see the need to worry. "In camp you kind of feel safe," he said. "Maybe." Dickerson will be heading out in about two weeks as his wife is due with their second child.

Ranking of the day

7 Kiermaier, in MLB Network's Top 10 Centerfielders Right Now! segment, behind Mike Trout (Angels), Tommy Pham (Cardinals), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies), George Springer (Astros), Lorenzo Cain (Brewers, ex-Royals) and Christian Yelich (Brewers, ex-Marlins).

Noteworthy

• In advance of Wednesday's first workout for pitchers and catchers, the Rays have to drop someone from the 40-man roster to add RHP Sergio Romo, who re-signed Friday.

• C Nick Ciuffo, a nonroster camp invitee, said he'd provide further explanation this week for the second failed drug test that led to his 50-game suspension.

• Amid trade rumors, RHP Jake Odorizzi had his arbitration hearing Monday in Arizona, with the panel picking between his $6.35 million request and the team's $6.05 million offer. The decision could be announced as soon as today.

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