Rays' John Jaso looks good in outfield drills

Published March 4, 2015

PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays officials didn't know what to expect when they raised the idea of putting DH John Jaso, who has spent most of his career as a catcher, in the outfield. And, to be honest, neither did Jaso.

But, after a week of slow-paced drills, the experiment has gone better than anyone could have expected.

"He's looked really good," manager Kevin Cash said. "He was reading balls off the bat (in batting practice) and he looked great, and (Monday) the outfielders did their first kind of light throwing, and every ball he threw was right on the line. I think from speaking with him, he's been comfortable with it.

"We probably didn't anticipate him getting out there until toward the end of spring. I think we got him coming in the third or fourth game … and see how it goes. If he's good, we'll keep throwing him out there. That's a great asset for us to have."

Though the Rays plan to use Jaso, 31, primarily as a DH vs. right-handers, he could have more value as a pinch-hitter at other times if he can stay in the game to play the outfield.

Jaso figures he last played outfield as a freshman or sophomore in high school or travel ball. But he has adjusted well, spending his time between shagging balls asking teammates for inside info and advice, knowing the toughest part will learning where the cutoff men are and which base to throw to.

"I'm enjoying the experience so far," he said. "I'm feeling more and more confident, but I think the nervousness is going to be there the first time that Cashy decides to throw me out there."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Bench coach Tom Foley created a stir when he went down to one knee on one of the fields after feeling lightheaded and dehydrated and was rushed to the trainers' room, but Cash said he was fine. … INF Asdrubal Cabrera was sent home after reporting Tuesday morning with stomach flu symptoms, and RHP Jake Odorizzi had similar issues earlier in the week. "The stomach thing is kind of going around with some guys," Cash said.

PITCHING IN: Odorizzi is now going to start Friday's game against the Twins; he was originally scheduled to throw on the back field. RHP Matt Andriese, who had been announced as the starter, will pitch in relief. … RHP Grant Balfour remains in Australia attending to his ailing father and has been texting with Cash and updating him on his workouts but has not said when he plans to return. He has been gone from camp since Feb. 24.

PURPOSEFUL MEETING: Before Tuesday's workout, Rays players attended a 90-minute MLB-arranged session on domestic violence awareness.

"It was really good," C Curt Casali said. "I think it's been in the forefront of other major sports with the Ray Rice thing and in the NFL and a couple of instances in the NBA. I don't know of anything happening significantly in MLB, and I think it's important we get out in front of it now before anything happens.

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"Whether it's your own personal life or somebody else's, I think it's important to know how to deal with it and react to it when you hear about it or see it. Today's presentation was really important."

ONFIELD ACTION: New 1B coach Rocco Baldelli drew on an area of expertise running fly ball drills with the outfielders … LHP Jeff Beliveau drew praise from Cash for his batting practice session and overall camp. … Cash was also impressed by RHP Brandon Gomes, noting the funkiness in his delivery and movement on his pitches. … Cash said overall, the four days of live batting practice went well, but "I think everybody is ready to get going, for sure." … Today will be an early and abbreviated workout — in shorts — due to the team's charity golf tournament.