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Rays' Morrison, replacing Loney at first, wants some love for his glove

The man the Rays brought in to be the primary replacement for James Loney wants you to know his glove also deserves some love.

Logan Morrison comes to the Rays with a reputation for being a clubhouse raconteur, the guy who willingly embraces the role of keeping the other players loose. He stands out with a barrel-chested physique and bulging biceps more fitting for a football locker room. He swings a bat capable of adding some much-needed left-handed power but also consistency to their reconstructed lineup.

But with the Rays cutting ties this week with Loney so Morrison can get most, though not all, of the playing time at first, his defense will be most scrutinized.

And he is ready to show you what he has got.

"I want to be a complete player," Morrison said. "I want to be known as a good first baseman. Best in the league. I had the highest fielding percentage for a long time last year. So I want to definitely do that."

Morrison, 28, came up a first baseman in the Marlins system, but he was moved to the outfield when he first got to the big leagues to get his bat in the lineup. A trade to Seattle allowed him to move back to first in 2014, and he is happy to stay there.

"That was an adjustment for me trying to learn a new position on the fly in the big leagues," he said. "Being at first base is way more comfortable for me. Not only the ground-ball aspect of it and being in the right spots, but the sign of a good first baseman is how many Gold Gloves his fielders get, picking them up, saving them errors, things like that. So I take a lot of pride in that."

Morrison is not going to be as smooth as Loney, whom the Rays will either trade or release (and eat his whole $8 million salary) by Sunday's noon roster deadline. But he can be good enough, noting that .996 fielding percentage last year (four errors in 1,130 chances) and calling himself Allstate — "because the infielders are in good hands."

That's the shared view of Brad Miller, who spent the past two years throwing to Morrison while playing shortstop in Seattle and will do the same this year for the Rays, having been acquired in the same November trade, along with reliever Danny Farquhar.

"LoMo is a really good defensive first baseman," Miller said. "We had Justin Smoak before who was very smooth, Loney style. But LoMo can pick it. And he takes a lot of pride in it."

Miller's scouting report:

"He's really athletic. … You'll see on fly balls in that no-man's land behind him, he goes and gets it. … He has a lot of range for sure. … He's big, but he's really tuned up. … He can run. … He's got great hands. … He's got a really good arm. … I'm seen him do a lot of things."

There is more to the LoMo show than just snaring throws and lacing line drives.

Morrison loves to stir the clubhouse, being loud, funny, needling, raunchy, and a whole bunch of other adjectives. No one is absolved, no subject sacred.

"I guess you could say he's … open," Farquhar said. "He says what's on his mind. He likes attention. However you want to put it, he likes attention."

At the least, Morrison is entertaining, if not bordering on annoying. "LoMo being LoMo," Farquhar said, with several other Rays nodding in agreement.

But Miller said there can be a benefit.

"He brings a lot of energy to the clubhouse, and he brings it every day," Miller said. "And whatever he does, he does it at 100 percent. He gets after it."

Morrison is happy to do whatever he can to help. Making a great catch. Delivering a key hit. Cracking up the clubhouse with a running commentary on the rookie karaoke show. Or by ordering minor-leaguer Taylor Motter to fetch 18 drinks from Starbucks one morning and serve them on a silver platter standing at the clubhouse door wearing a bow tie and, well, let's just say less than full uniform.

"You've got to have fun," Morrison said. "This game's really hard, so being able to create an environment where getting on guys, guys getting on me, whatever it is, take it and dish it out, makes the grind of the season go by a little easier."

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

Rays' Morrison, replacing Loney at first, wants some love for his glove 04/01/16 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2016 12:06am]
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