Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez shows his offensive side

BOSTON — There isn't much Sean Rodriguez can't do on the baseball field. And even less he doesn't think he could do.

In essence, he's the best defen­der the Rays have right now at second base, shortstop and third base, so manager Joe Maddon moves him around to fill what­ever he considers the most gaping hole at the moment.

Offensively, Rodriguez prides himself on doing all the little things. But occasionally, he'll do something big such as the two-run homer he blasted over the Green Monster in the ninth inning to give the Rays a 4-3 win over the Red Sox on Sunday.

"He's got severe power," Maddon said. "He's got as much power as anybody on this team; anybody. The thing is it's the consistency of power, the consistency of contact that permits it to play. And that's a maturation thing."

Rodriguez showed it Sunday — and in a tough spot. He was 0-for-8 against Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves and admitted he didn't know what to look for. He decided to wait on a fastball, which he got.

"I don't think it's one of the furthest ones I hit," Rodriguez said. "But I hit it well enough to know it was a home run."

DIFFERENT VIEW: The Rays don't see the White Sox much, and Maddon acknowledged it will be "somewhat uncomfortable" going against first-time manager Robin Ventura in a series that starts today.

"That's one situation I will rely more on advance information," he said. "I'll try to look at the different things I normally look at with other guys. But it's even more important now because I have no idea what Robin's going to be like."

Maddon's primary areas of concern are how Ventura will use his bullpen, when he'd pinch hit and what he might do to control the Rays' running game.

Rays bench coach Dave Martinez was widely reported as a top candidate for the White Sox job but was never interviewed as Ventura, who had no managerial experience, was hired.

MOORE MORE: LHP Matt Moore starts today saying he learned an important lesson in his last start, when he zipped through four innings and had a 6-0 lead but couldn't get out of the fifth.

"I wasn't really getting hit or getting beat like that. I was really beating myself," he said. "The pace of the game needs to slow down. When I start walking guys, or if there's a hit or whatever it may be, I think I may need to, maybe, take a step back and collect myself."

ROSTER RIPPLES: 1B/OF Brandon Allen (right quad strain) went 2-for-4 Sunday for advanced Class A Charlotte, raising his average to .242 (8-for-33), in the ninth game of his rehab assignment. Allen could rejoin the Rays at any point as he is already eligible to be reinstated. And because he's out of options, they have to keep him in the majors or expose him to waivers.

OF/DH Hideki Matsui went 1-for-4 for Triple-A Durham, raising his average to .178 (8-for-45) through 12 games, and played leftfield for the third time in the past four games. A promotion to the majors seems likely this week. Maddon said only, "He's getting closer."

C Jose Lobaton (sore right shoulder) went 1-for-3 in his fourth game for Durham but left after seven innings. He is also eligible to return when ready.

BE WARNED: Maddon will try all kinds of strategy and was intrigued by Vanderbilt's triple steal (with the bases loaded, obviously) in the SEC tournament against Florida on Saturday.

"It's food for thought," Maddon said. "We have something else cooking that's not quite that, but it's a very interesting concept. I've never seen it, never heard of it."

MISCELLANY: The Rays added a concert, with DJ Afrojack, also known as Nick van de Wall, set to play after the June 15 game against Miami. … Luke Scott stole a base in consecutive games for the first time in his career and, with two, is one shy of his career high. … Maddon congratulated the USF women's softball team for the "tremendous accomplishment" of reaching the College World Series and said, "We'll be watching."

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