Live from Port Charlotte: First steps for Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi

Reliever Gibaut has lat issue; Glasnow, Faria among the pitchers who impressed.
Brandon Lowe getting some intense instruction on playing 1B from new Rays infield coach Rodney Linares, left, who is running a drill with blue rubber balls. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Brandon Lowe getting some intense instruction on playing 1B from new Rays infield coach Rodney Linares, left, who is running a drill with blue rubber balls. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Published February 16

PORT CHARLOTTE - Brandon Lowe is already hard at work learning how to play first base.

Lowe worked Saturday with new infield coach Rodney Linares, who had him doing a drill with bouncing rubber racquetballs he could catch barehanded. That was a day after special assistant Tom Foley had him hold a baseball ball in his right hand so he’d get used to catching balls with just his glove hand.

"It’s fun,'' said Lowe, who played second base and outfield last year and hasn’t played first since youth leagues. "Anytime you can work with guys that really know what they’re talking about ... getting to pick their brains. ... It’s a learning process and they’re getting my feet wet before they throw me into the fire. So it’s exciting for right now.''

Lowe will get a look at first this spring, as well Choi, who was limited to DH duty after coming over in trade from Milwaukee. He previously played some first base with the Yankees, Angels and Brewers.

"My job, every year,'' said Choi, who worked a lot at first during the off-season, and also worked out at the EXOS facility with teammate Matt Duffy. Choi also spent the offseason entirely in Arizona rather than make a trip back to South Korea, though he did have family visit and made a trip to the Grand Canyon.

While Lowe is learning the position, manager Kevin Cash said the question with Choi will be if he can play consistently at a high enough level defensively.

Also:

* Ian Gibaut, a promising relief candidate, was being checked by a doctor after reporting a right lat tweak; Cash said it isn’t believed to be serious.

* Cash said he was impressed by the bullpen work of Tyler Glasnow (whose velocity stood out), Colin Poche (noting how well he hides the ball) and Jake Faria (which he said "was very, very encouraging'').

* Sunday’s workout starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road); Monday’s first full-squad session starts at 11 and includes fan activities


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