1. Rays

Catching? John Jaso takes a break

Rays designated hitter John Jaso taking batting practice during a workout at Tropicana Field on Friday. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times]
Rays designated hitter John Jaso taking batting practice during a workout at Tropicana Field on Friday. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
Published Feb. 7, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — John Jaso will report to Rays camp this month with the rest of the catchers, like he has done the first 11 springs of his pro career.

But for the first time he won't be doing any work behind the plate.

Though cleared medically to resume catching after a concussion cut short a second straight season, Jaso said the Rays — who reacquired him from the A's in last month's Ben Zobrist trade — have made it clear they want him to focus primarily on filling the DH role.

Jaso, 31, will get work in the outfield and at first base, and it's possible he could go behind the plate in an emergency during the season, but for now he's pondering how to prepare like Boston DH extraordinaire David Ortiz.

"It's definitely going to be different," Jaso said Friday at Tropicana Field. "I'm going to just have to see how it is. I have no idea. The Big Papi program? I don't know. … This will be kind of the first time for me."

Jaso said he has no fears about going back behind the plate — "I'm that stupid," he joked — and could do so with no problem, but he said the Rays, who are paying him $3.175 million, don't want to risk him missing extended time if he gets another concussion.

"We have an understanding that they want me to hit, and putting me in the instance where I could be in harm's way — where I would then be on the bench for the rest of the year — that's not worth it at this point," he said.

Jaso said he plans to eventually return to catching, though it's possible — and potentially better for him — that he would wait until next season, allowing for more time to pass since his most recent concussion.

PITCHING IN: LHP Matt Moore continues his recovery from Tommy John elbow-ligament surgery, eyeing a June return to the rotation. He threw twice more his week off the mound, 15 pitches each time. "The biggest sign is that every day we've been meeting our goals and still feeling strong at the end of the day," Moore said.

MISCELLANY: New manager Kevin Cash has been impressed with the large group of players — a dozen and growing — who have been working out regularly at the Trop. "It's a commitment that they've made," he said. … C Curt Casali joined the group this week, and new starting C Rene Rivera, who had been playing in Puerto Rico, is expected soon.


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