Morning update: Scott has a plan, S-Rod improvement, Pena a smile; catchers still bunched
UPDATE, 11:45: And a few more:
* Manager Joe Maddon said none of the candidates for the other catcher's job have really distinguished themselves, though he did acknowledge that Stephen Vogt has stood out as the best hitter. Also, that Jose Lobaton has thrown well. The others are Robinson Chirinos and Chris Gimenez. "Nobody has been over-impressive in separating themselves,' he said.
* Maddon said Longoria would get 2 or 3 at-bats today, and Scott likely 2.
BREAKING: A couple of morning notes from Rays clubhouse:
* DH Luke Scott's trimmed Wolverine beard was coincidental, the result of a trimmer incident, but it accentuated the smile on his face for being in the lineup for the first time this spring, and for the first time since last July 22, prior to the surgery on his right shoulder.
Scott had a good day Saturday, facing Matt Moore and then cranking up the machines in the batting tunnel, and said he was ready for the next step.
"It was just time to start seeing where I'm at and seeing some live pitching.,'' he said. "My mind subliminally says "protect your shoulder," so that’s the thing I’ve got to overcome. I’m a hands hitter. You’ve got to hit with your hands. So with all this that’s where I’ve got to get to, where I’m using my hands and trusting.''
Scott said he's planning on just one or two at-bats, and with modest goals: Hoping just to hit hard ground balls.
"All I really want to do today, My goal, I’d be happy if I stay square, if my front side stays in, and I just flick my hands and hit the ball hard on the ground, Backspin ground balls would be freaking good news. A 4-3 or a 6-3, all day long,'' he said.
* INF Sean Rodriguez had more flexibility today in his sprained left index finger, showing reporters he could crip a bat, and said he plans to hit balls off a tee today and hopes to be back on the field in another day or two. The Rays seem to have a more cautious schedule in mind, with him returning mid-week.
* 1B Carlos Pena said it was "a pleasant surprise" to find out he was hitting second, and was just as curious as to manager Joe Maddon's reason as reporters were. Pena did say that he won't be changing his game and suddenly dropping down bunts. "You're not going to see that,'' he said. "I'm going to swing away.''