Gameday report: Rays at Red Sox
UPDATE, 11:21: Most interesting news of Maddon's pre-game was his assessment that as of now he expects Ben Zobrist to start the season splitting time between second and rightfield, with platoons at both spots, rather than making a hard decision at either. "I think right now we're looking at it as a platoon,'' he said. "It's more than likely going to start that way, but as it's going it could turn into maybe we won't want it, maybe we want to do something else.'' ... Maddon also said he is looking forward to seeing Bartlett work with Rodriguez, and would have Bartlett work with Reid Brignac as well in coming days. ... Willy Aybar will make his spring debut at DH on Thursday, then play third on Saturday. It also looks like Hank Blalock will make his Rays debut on Saturday. ... Maddon said he didn't like the sound of a realignment plan that was discussed preliminarily by MLB officials because it would be fluid from year to year. "I'll go on record and say I don't like that at all,'' Maddon said.
UPDATE, 10:38: As the Rays arrived at City of Palms Park, there was news here at Nomar Garciaparra announced he had signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox and then immediately retired, with plans ot join ESPN.
DEVELOPING: Ben Zobrist will be in rightfield for the first time of the exhibition season today when the Rays make the (relatively) short trip to Fort Myers, a 36-mile jaunt that is their shortest of the spring. That means SS Jason Bartlett and 2B Sean Rodriguez will play together for the first time this spring. Also, Reid Brignac is playing third. David Price is scheduled to be on the mound to face the Red Sox.
Here is the Rays lineup posted in the clubhouse this morning:
Also of note for Thursday, Pat Burrell will be in rightfield with the team going to Bradenton. Also going are Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Sean Rodriguez and both front-line Cs, Dioner Navarro and Kelly Shoppach. Playing in the game in Port Charlotte are Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Carlos Pena and - for the first time this spring - Willy Aybar at DH.