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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon re-emphasizes issues with catcher John Jaso's game

TORONTO — A 2010 spring training summit with manager Joe Maddon, politely described as blunt and forceful, was considered the impetus for C John Jaso making the necessary improvements to his game that got him to the big leagues.

Jaso was summoned to Maddon's office Thursday for another session, albeit not as forceful, about his recent play, which has been lacking focus at times.

"Primarily just a refresher course kind of a thing," Maddon said.

Jaso has looked lackadaisical at times, letting a foul pop drop Wednesday, missing several signs, even failing to toss his mask far enough away when chasing popups twice in the last week. Also, 27 of the potential 32 basestealers against him have been successful, and he is hitting just .217.

"Just talking about things in general, stuff that I've been watching," Maddon said. "Controllable components, things he can control."

Maddon said it was not as intense as the 2010 spring session: "This was more educational, with some good give-and-take."

Jaso was on the bench Thursday but expected to be in the lineup tonight. Prospect Robin­son Chirinos has just a .200 average at Triple A, though Jose Lobaton is hitting .346.

ROSTER SHUFFLE: LHP J.P. Howell is set to be activated from the disabled list today, and RHP Rob Delaney seems likely to go to make room.

Delaney (13.50 ERA through three appearances) can be optioned to Triple A while RHP Adam Russell (1-1, 3.60 in 16), the other likely candidate, is out of options and would have to be exposed to waivers.

There is also a possibility the Rays could make another move, calling up another position player to increase their depth and versatility, especially for the NL-rules weekend series, perhaps at the expense of seldom-used 1B Dan Johnson. OFs Brandon Guyer and Desmond Jennings, who are on the 40-man roster, and Justin Ruggiano, who isn't, would be among the options.

SHORT STORY: Reid Brignac is not pleased, obviously, with Maddon's plan to split playing time at shortstop between Brignac and Elliot Johnson.

But he's more upset with himself over his poor play, specifically a .179 batting average and a .212 on-base percentage, that put him in that position.

"Ain't nobody could be more disappointed than me," Brignac said. "But it's part of the game and what I have to do is focus on my opportunities and take advantage. Recently I haven't been doing that, so it might be a little wake-up call or something for me."

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE: With no DH for the weekend series in Miami, Johnny Damon will play leftfield tonight, his first start there since April 17, and first such appearance since April 29.

Maddon will spend extra time going over potential extra moves, such as pinch-hitting for the pitcher and making double switches, but he said it's not that foreign giving all the maneuvering he normally does.

Overall, the Rays are 48-68 in NL parks, though 23-22 under Maddon.

SITTING SAM: LF Sam Fuld's 10-for-83 skid that dropped his average from .350 to .233 will get him two-day break from the lineup. Maddon said it wasn't fatigue as much as a product of the schedule, with the Jays starting LHP Ricky Romero on Thursday and the plan to play Damon tonight. "He tells me he's fine, and I think he is," Maddon said. "Everything else looks good. It's just the fly ball that hurts him once in a while."

MISCELLANY: 2B/RF Ben Zobrist's streak of reaching base ended at 23 games. ... Thursday was the 22nd time a Rays starter worked at least seven innings, matching Oakland for most in the majors. ... RHP Alex Cobb improved to 5-0 with a 1.31 ERA at Triple A.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon re-emphasizes issues with catcher John Jaso's game 05/19/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 19, 2011 11:28pm]
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