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Rays journal: Infielders learning new positions this spring

Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Corey Dickerson (10) gets a kiss from his son, Davis Hayes Dickerson, 2, before the start of the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Corey Dickerson (10) gets a kiss from his son, Davis Hayes Dickerson, 2, before the start of the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.
Published Feb. 25, 2017

FORT MYERS — The Rays could have three infielders playing in different positions this season, with Matt Duffy moving to shortstop, Brad Miller to second base and Rickie Weeks to first.

Duffy played short coming up before the Giants slid him to third in 2015, and Miller played 37 games at second with Seattle in 2013-15 before splitting '16 between shortstop and first.

But Weeks has never played first, where he will start today as part of his crash course.

Weeks, 34, has spent most of his 13 big-league seasons at second, so he figures the transition won't be too difficult. "The positioning, where to be, that's probably the biggest thing," he said.

Weeks is working daily with infield/bench coach Tom Foley and watching closely to pick up tips from 1B Logan Morrison. "I told him, 'Hey, I'm in your back pocket.' " Weeks said.

Miller started at second Friday against the Twins and looked good, making back-to-back clean plays in the second. Manager Kevin Cash continues to praise his attitude and play.

Protecting the plate

There was a catchers dinner Thursday at the Capital Grille in Sarasota for which a lot of cows died. Curt Casali and Luke Maile arranged the outing, which included a limo ride, with the big-leaguers picking up the four-figure tab for their younger mates, coaches (Jamie Nelson, Bill Evers, Paul Hoover, Craig Albernaz) and the bullpen catchers, a party of 15. "We had a great group," Casali said. "It was a good time. I had it done for me when I was in Detroit, and I thought it was an awesome idea. … We're trying to create a culture here."

Something to think about

Corey Dickerson will bat leadoff today against the Pirates. With no obvious right-handed hitter to replace Logan Forsythe atop the order, would manager Kevin Cash go away from alternating hitters and stack lefties Dickerson and Kevin Kiermaier ahead of Evan Longoria?

Game report: Rays beat Twins 3-1

The Rays opened their 34-game spring schedule with a 3-1 win over the Twins. RH starter Austin Pruitt worked two scoreless innings, a nice payoff for his dad, who drove 16 hours from Texas to watch. … SS Tim Beckham came out swinging, lacing a double and a triple. Look for him to get time in the outfield later in the spring. … RHP Ryne Stanek impressed, hitting 99 mph twice and 98 nine times in a one-walk, one-infield-hit inning. … 3B Daniel Robertson atoned for two errors with an RBI single. … RHP Ryan Garton was sick and didn't pitch.

Spring things

. Fans should arrive early today at Charlotte Sports Park for the home opener against the Pirates because of the implementation, under MLB rules, of metal detectors and/or wanding at the gates, which open two hours before the 1:05 p.m. first pitch. A free fan fest starts at 11 a.m. CF Kevin Kiermaier and top prospect SS Willy Adames were scheduled to play.

. Highlight of Friday was seeing legendary grounds keeper George Toma, the 88-year-old "god of sod," handing out photos taken at the Super Bowl with his "new girlfriend" — Lady Gaga.

. WDAE-AM 620 will do a Countdown to Opening Day show at 12:30 today and Sunday.

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