Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trying Ben Zobrist at shortstop a logical move for Tampa Bay Rays

MINNEAPOLIS

The idea of moving Ben Zobrist back to shortstop has been kicked around, quietly, for weeks.

With infielder Ryan Roberts acquired from Arizona, with infielder Jeff Keppinger continuing to be one of their most productive hitters, with DH at-bats limited with Evan Longoria returning and Luke Scott on the way back this week, the Rays' issue was to find a way to get their best offensive players on the field together. And with Matt Joyce in rightfield, that meant finding a way to get Zobrist, Roberts and Keppinger in the infield.

Given that none of the above can play catcher, the other glaring area for improvement was shortstop, where Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac (remember him?) have combined to hit .233 with six homers and 38 RBIs.

The Rays felt Zobrist, who came up as a shortstop and played there occasionally into 2009, could handle the defensive responsibilities, certainly more so than Keppinger or Roberts. Then they made another interesting decision, moving Roberts to second and putting Keppinger at third — the right move, since he definitely has the better arm and has played better than expected.

Part of the reason to try it out now, especially to make sure they like how Zobrist looks at shortstop, is Scott's pending return. The most obvious move to make room is to send Rodriguez, hitting .208, to Triple A for 2½ weeks, then bring him up when the rosters expand Sept. 1.

Roberts also can be optioned, but Rodriguez seems to be viewed as more expendable. Johnson, who, like Rodriguez, can play any position, and outfielder Sam Fuld are out of options, and the Rays are unlikely to risk losing them on waivers.

Part of their premise is that Roberts, who had a .140 average in his first 13 Rays games, will heat up and prove to be one of their better offensive players. But when Longoria returns to third base — and he says it's close — they can move Keppinger back to second (and occasionally to first in place of Carlos Peña). Or they could go back to playing Johnson, or eventually Rodriguez, at short and shift Zobrist back to second.

Given how they had been going, all ideas are worth exploring.

Trying Ben Zobrist at shortstop a logical move for Tampa Bay Rays 08/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 11, 2012 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …