Maddon on Roberts in, and Matsui out
The newest Tampa Bay Ray, INF Ryan Roberts, showed up as advertised this afternoon, with RHP James Shields quipping "Tatman is coming into town."
Roberts, 31, acquired Tuesday from the Diamondbacks, earned the nickname for his tattoos, but he's also regarded by the Rays as a good utility infielder, with manager Joe Maddon saying he'll primarily play third base to start. Roberts gives the Rays an option at third while Evan Longoria works his way back from a partially torn left hamstring, especially with Longoria planning to return as a DH first.
But while Roberts is in the lineup tonight at third, Maddon said he can also play second, "dabble" at short and has experience in the corner outfield.
"He's a very interesting player," Maddon said. "From what I understand, I think definitely fits into our culture."
Roberts, a right-handed pop, having hit 19 homers last year for the Diamondbacks, coming through in many clutch moments in their run to the playoffs. He brings a lot of energy to the clubhouse, having won Arizona's Heart and Hustle Award last year.
"He's a good decision maker at the plate, accepts his walks, balances out his strikeouts," Maddon said.
*On the other side of it, the Rays had to part ways with DH/OF Hideki Matsui, who was designated for assignment to make room for Roberts.
Maddon said the decision came down to the fact that with OF Sam Fuld back, they're filled up there, and "kind of locked up" at DH as well, not leaving much room for Matsui, who was hitting .147. Maddon said INF Brooks Conrad, on the other hand, provides more flexibility defensively, and as a switch-hitter.
Maddon praised Matsui for his professionalism, work ethic and how he handled everything, including getting told Tuesday night of the news. Maddon said Matsui understood the decision, was "grateful" for the opportunity and "upset" that he didn't get the results for the Rays. "Accountable" and "classy" is how Maddon described him. Maddon said Matsui needed a day or two to ponder his future, but Maddon said he wouldn't close the book yet on the veteran staying in the Rays organization. The Rays have 10 days to trade or release Matsui, or put him on waivers.
But Maddon believes Matsui can still play.
"I still see a life in him," Maddon said. "And I don't think that he's done."