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Rays send Gimenez to minors, name Lobaton backup catcher

STILL STRUGGLING: Matt Moore’s shaky spring continues as he walks five batters in 42/3 innings, though only two runs.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

STILL STRUGGLING: Matt Moore’s shaky spring continues as he walks five batters in 42/3 innings, though only two runs.

PORT CHARLOTTE — C Jose Lobaton will be the Rays' second catcher behind Jose Molina to start the season.

The Rays decided one of their few position battles Monday night when they optioned C Chris Gimenez to Triple-A Durham.

The news wasn't unexpected, even to Gimenez. Even though Gimenez had a much better spring, hitting .368, Lobaton was out of minor-league options, meaning he could be lost on waivers.

Gimenez said he was disappointed but appreciated the Rays' honesty in telling him it was the options that were the culprit. Manager Joe Maddon said Gimenez "definitely could be in the big leagues right now" but "it's part of the business."

"I'm not going to go down and, like I said last year, be 'Bitter Bob,' " Gimenez said. "You've just got to take it for what it is, and keep working to keep yourself doing the same things. It'll just be a matter of time."

Lobaton, who admittedly struggled in hitting .257, said he didn't know what would happen, telling his wife Monday morning to prepare for anything.

"I'm excited," Lobaton said. "I know it was a really tough decision for the GM and the manager, 'cause I know Gimenez was killing the ball. So in the moment when he told me, I was like, 'Oh wow.' Really sad for (Gimenez). But that's baseball."

The Rays also reassigned OF Shelley Duncan, who had a team-high five home runs, OF Jason Bourgeois and INF Mike Fontenot to minor-league camp.

PITCHING IN: LHP Matt Moore labored through another tough outing, needing 106 pitches to last 42/3 innings in a 6-2 victory over the Pirates.

Moore was able to pitch well "with my back against the wall," allowing just two runs on six hits, but he had five walks, saying he continues to struggle getting a feel for his fastball.

Moore isn't concerned, saying "it's there when I need it," and Maddon noted that the lefty is healthy and a "notoriously slow starter." "You just got to be patient," Maddon said.

GREAT SCOTT: DH Luke Scott was scratched from Monday's lineup as a precaution due to tightness in his right calf. Maddon didn't have a projection for how long Scott would be out, but he didn't appear concerned.

GAME STUFF: 3B Evan Longoria and 2B Ben Zobrist each hit two-run homers in the fifth inning for the Rays (15-14), who snapped a five-game skid. Longoria's was his first of the spring. … Longoria had two errors on one play in the fourth. … RHP Brandon Gomes and RHP Joel Peralta were strong in relief.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Sam Fuld, sidelined with right hamstring tightness, batted six times (0-for-5 with a walk) and played five innings in centerfield during a minor-league game Monday. He said all went well, and he plans to take today off and play in the Rays' spring home finale Wednesday against the Blue Jays.

RHP Kyle Farnsworth said his bruised middle finger is better, that he threw all his pitches with no issues on Sunday and he expects to make his scheduled appearance Wednesday in a minor-league game.

PITCHING IN: RHPs Jeff Niemann and Fernando Rodney and LHP Jake McGee will pitch in Wednesday's exhibition against the Blue Jays. RHP Alex Cobb, Farnsworth and RHP Jamey Wright will appear in a minor-league game the same day.

MINOR MATTERS: The Rays acquired minor-league C Curt Casali from the Tigers in exchange for LHP Kyle Lobstein, who had been lost in the Rule 5 draft to the Mets, who then sold him to the Tigers the same day. … Touted prospect OF Wil Myers, sidelined in minor-league camp with right wrist soreness, tweeted he will return to game action Wednesday and is "ready for the season."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Rays send Gimenez to minors, name Lobaton backup catcher 03/25/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:19pm]
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