John Jaso may get shot at leading off for Rays

Tampa Bay Rays catcher John Jaso (28) fouls one off in the third inning during the Rays Spring Training opening game against the Baltimore Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 5, 2015.
Tampa Bay Rays catcher John Jaso (28) fouls one off in the third inning during the Rays Spring Training opening game against the Baltimore Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 5, 2015.
Published March 11, 2015

PORT CHARLOTTE — Batting leadoff and playing leftfield for your Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday was … John Jaso.

While batting at the top of the order is apparently going to be a thing, especially given his .368 career on-base percentage vs. right-handed pitchers, the outfield assignment will be just occasional duty for the former catcher.

"Not committing to anything, but I think it could be likely that we could see him there in certain lineups," manager Kevin Cash said.

Jaso, who hit leadoff 56 times as a catcher and 27 other times, said he welcomes the opportunity: "I like it. I'll take pitches, I'm not afraid to go deep in the count. I think I fit in well right there. As long as I don't clog up the bases."

As for his pro outfield debut in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Pirates, he was disappointed to not get much action, just one ball that rolled into the corner.

"I just need to get that first fly ball out of the way," he said, admitting to some nerves until the ball was hit his way. "You start running, and you can't think and run, right?"

ALEX IN HOUSE: A bit frustrated at being delayed two-plus weeks in getting a visa, RHP Alex Colome was most happy to join the Rays, eager to finally get to work.

"This is my year," Colome said. "I don't have options. I have to do a great job."

Because he is out of options, Colome, 26, is likely to be on the team in some capacity but made clear he wants a spot in the rotation.

Colome, who was working out at the team complex and more recently near his home in the Dominican Republic, said he is on schedule and ready to go, planning to pitch in a game by this weekend. The Rays will decide a schedule after watching him throw live batting practice today.

S-ROD, TOO: INF/OF Sean Rodriguez has had time to process being traded by the Rays to the Pirates, and he played against them Saturday. But coming back to the Charlotte Sports Park Tuesday was tough.

"Walking in here is different. It feels weird," he said. "It's a little (much) to take in. Over at Pirates camp I was fine, everything was cool. I don't think I felt anything at all, and then coming over here, definitely, you miss it, you miss the guys."

TO THE MATT: RHP Matt Andriese had never faced a lineup like the one he saw in the 5-1 loss in Fort Myers, with Boston's first six batters combining for 21 All-Star game appearances. Andriese, another candidate for an open rotation spot, held his own in his first start of the spring. He allowed only two hits and one walk in his two solid innings, with 30 of his 49 pitches strikes, allowing two unearned runs. "It boosts the confidence a little bit and shows you where you're at," Andriese said.

SLOPPY DAY: The Rays (1-5-1) combined for six errors in the two losses, including a pair by SS/2B candidate Nick Franklin vs. Boston, one on a ground ball, one on an attempted flip play. "Nothing really that I'm worried about," Franklin said. "My glove's been very solid. Just one of those days, you know?" Overall they have committed an MLB-most 15.

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RED SOX 5, RAYS 1: LHP Mike Montgomery had another impressive outing in his conversion from starter to reliever, including an escape from a one-out bases-loaded mess. … CF Kevin Kiermaier had another outfield assist, throwing out Mike Napoli on his way to second, and doubled. … 3B Logan Forsythe had a triple and scored the Rays' only run on an eighth-inning passed ball.

PIRATES 4, RAYS 3: RHP Burch Smith, another candidate for an open rotation spot, looked good during most of his three innings, allowing a run on three hits and a walk. … The Rays tied it at 3 in the seventh when 3B Evan Longoria walked, 1B James Loney doubled, RF David DeJesus singled and C Luke Maile singled. …LHP Enny Romero gave up the go-ahead run in the eighth.

MEDICAL MATTERS: LHP Drew Smyly (shoulder tendinitis) "had a really good day," Cash said, advancing his workload to include a drill where he threw a ball in a sock, but he has no date to return to the mound. … LHP Jake McGee, recovering from elbow surgery, is looking at throwing off the mound for the first time Tuesday, eyeing a late April/early May return. … OF Brandon Guyer (oblique/lat strain) continues to increase his activities and is tentatively set to return Sunday or Monday. … Non-roster INF Alexi Casilla was scratched from the Port Charlotte lineup due to a tender left ankle.

MISCELLANY: An elderly male fan was hospitalized after being struck in the head by a bat that Longoria lost his grip on; Longoria, Cash and team VP Rick Vaughn went to the hospital after the game. … RHP Alex Cobb will be announced today as the honorary starter for the March 29 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. … Recently signed RHP Jim Miller is likely to make his debut in the next couple days.