Bogar joining Rays as "quality assurance" coach; Other tidbits from organizational meetings
The Rays added former major leaguer Tim Bogar to their major league coaching staff as a "quality assurance" coach.
Bogar's duties will include coordinating spring training schedules, series preparation and serving as a liason between the scouting department and the ball club. He will watch the Rays from the stands and scout them like an opponent would, research upcoming opponents and do a lot of the advance leg work.
"I know this is a radical approach to baseball," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But so was the bench coach when that came along, so was the DH, so was color television at some point. With all the information that's available to us and all the different things that the coaches have to do on a daily basis, I want the coaches to be able to really be able to get involved with the players as much as possible."
"We're trying to get somebody to try to get ahead of our own mistakes," Maddon said.
Bogar -- who managed in the minor leagues the last four seasons, including the past two at the Indians' Double-A team in Akron, Ohio -- will be in uniform during spring training assisting with infield and base-running instruction.
Other nuggets out of Thursday's media session:
-- The team wrapped up three days of organizational meetings and didn't come to a conclusion on whether Evan Longoria is ready to assume the starting third-baseman duties on Opening Day. Executive VP Andrew Friedman said he'd like to go in with a set plan before spring training. Maddon said he'd like to see it play out in spring training. "We know he's going to be our third baseman," Maddon said. "It's just a matter of when."
-- Maddon said that he sees five pitchers (Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine, J.P. Howell and Jeff Niemann) fighting for the two open spots in the rotation. Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza are already in.
-- Friedman said he would "be surprised" if the Rays didn't sign their four remaining arbitration eligible players (Scott Kazmir, Jonny Gomes, Dan Wheeler and Carlos Pena) before having to exchange figures a week from Friday. Even though teams are allowed to keep negotiating after figures are exchanged, as per team policy, if deals aren't worked out be then, Friedman said they will go to arbitration.
-- The team is still seaking a superutility player, more likely through trade than via the free-agent market, Friedman said, and perferably one who can play both all three outfield positions. With Rocco Baldelli's health unclear, the Rays currently don't have a backup centerfielder to B.J. Upton, but internal possibilities like Justin Ruggiano exist. They will also try Joel Guzman and Chris Richard in the outfield this spring.
-- The search for a left-handed reliever continues (also through the trade market), but Maddon said there are other possibilities, including moving Howell to the pen if he doesn't make the rotation.
-- Among the non-roster invitees this spring will be RHPs Wade Davis and Chris Mason, LHP Jacob McGee and SS Reid Brignac.
-- The Rays promoted Nick Paparesta to major league assistant athletic trainer. Paparesta, who was based out of the Rays' minor league complex, will join head trainer Ron Porterfield and assistant Paul Harker as the Rays third trainer at the major league level in attempt to share the workload and increase their injury prevention programs.
-- The Rays named minor league hitting coordinator Steve Livesey the organization's Player Development Man of the Year and Fred Repke the Scout of the Year.
-- The organization also promoted Mark Vinson to Minor League Rehabilitation and Athletic Training Coordinator, Jmmy Southard to Triple-A Durham trainer, Joel Smith to Double-A Montgomery trainer.
-- Former major league bench coach Bill Evers will be a professional scout, as will Joe Nigro. Kevin Elfering was named East Coast Crosschecker; named area scouts Evan Brannon (Florida territory), Jayson Durocher (New Mexico; Arizona; Colorado; Utah; El Paso, Texas) and Brian Hickman (Midwest) and named Scott Thurston the trainer at rookie league Princeton.