Rays make official deal with OF Colby Rasmus, release OF Coats
UPDATE, 3:43: Rays VP Chaim Bloom said the Rays are "comfortable" with Rasmus' rehab progress, that they know he will be behind in spring training but "are optimistic" he will be ready to start with season, with "a good chance" he'll be active for the 4/2 opener.
UPDATE, 2:59: Rasmus said the chance to be reunited with hitting coach Chad Mottola, whom he worked with during a career-best 2013 season in Toronto, and the chance to be close to his Alabama home were big reasons he signed with the Rays.
Rasmus is recovering from October hip and sports hernia surgeries and said he is doing well, cleared for running and baseball activities, but plans to be cautious in spring training, with the possibility he won't play in the early games with an eye on making sure he is ready for the April 2 regular season opener.
In answering a question about a lack of recognition for his outfield play, being a finalist but not winnign the Gold Glove in 2016, Rasmus referenced a years-old conflict with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, and said:
"You know how the game is. In the show they don't necessarily like long hair and the redneck folks, that's just the way it goes. My good old friend Tony La Russa he has a lot of pull in the game, so you never know. I just try to play the game how I play it. I play hard. I play the game kind of (all) out, and rough, so I've hurt myself along the way When it comes to back, injuries, they set you back for awards like that.
"I just try to play the game, in the way I play it, some people don't like that. I think the fans like it a little more. The folks up top may not like it quite as much, the sabermetric guys, things like that, catching balls out of my range, or however they do it. I try to get myself in the best position to try to get us on and off the field as quick as possible. That's my goal. I don't try to play for sabermetrics or to try to make the flashy play - I try to catch it and get into the dugout and get our pitchers off the field as quick as I can. So I haven't ever really set myself up to look good for whatever it is that some of these guys do - I have trouble doing that.
"My dad raised me up just playing (all out), that's just how I play. It would've been cool to get the Gold Glove. I understand my numbers might have been a little bit better, but I didn't finish out the season, I got hurt, I had that cyst (in his ear) going on, but that's baseball, you know. I don't have no sweat about it. It's all good, I'm going to try to get myself ready to suit up and get ready to ball out this year.''
DEVELOPING: The Rays today finally made official their signing of free-agent OF Colby Rasmus to a one-year, $5-million deal, and made room on the 40-man roster by releasing OF Jason Coats.
Rasmus, 30, can earn up to $2-million more in incentives in a deal first agreed to Jan. 9.
He is coming off a 2016 season in Houston where he hit .206 with 15 homers, 54 RBIs and a .641 OPS, limited to 107 games. The Rays are banking on a return to his 2015 form, when Rasmus hit .238 with 25 homers, 68 RBIs and a .789 OPS.
Rasmus, a lefty hitter, is expected to play leftfield (with Corey Dickerson getting more time at DH), but can also play RF and serve as a backup in CF, providing solid defense.
Coats was released because he tore a ligament in his arm - the day he was claimed - and needs Tommy John surgery.