Live from Port Charlotte: Afternoon update on McGee, Howell, batting order and a new face
The second day of workouts went relatively well, manager Joe Maddon said, aside from the slight issue with RHP Jeremy Hellickson feeling tightness in his right hamstring.
Among the developments:
* Maddon confirmed that LHP Jake McGee will be used as a reliever, which would certainly increase his chances of making the opening day roster. The Rays had been talking about using him as a starter, which most likely would have meant he was headed to Triple-A no matter what. Instead, McGee will be competing with other lefthanders Cesar Ramos, Cesar Cabral, R.J. Swindle and prospect Alex Torres.
* LHP J.P. Howell threw about 30 pitches and showed no signs or restrictions from his May shoulder surgery, Maddon said. One big difference was that he had better form in his delivery, and - at least in this controlled setting - was no longer falling off the mound at the end of his pitches. "That was great to see, to see him finish on balance and I think if he's able to maintain that you're able to then maintain arm heath better,'' Maddon said. "When you're finish the way he finished today it was great to see.'' Maddon didn't know if Howell would continue to do so once he is going all out during games. But overall, he liked what he saw: "I saw J.P. throwing today, it looked pretty normal.''
* Maddon said he still hadn't decided on a batting order, but was leaning toward using Evan Longoria third and Manny Ramirez fourth. His priority is getting protection for Longoria in the order, but he is intrigued by the possibilities of having Ramirez hit in front of Longoria since he has a high on-base percentage.
* If the Rays do go ahead and add a player to the spring roster (as rumored), a name to keep in mind is INF/OF Joe Inglett, who played last season with Brewers. Inglett, 32, is another versatile player who would provide depth at a number of positions.