Tampa Bay Rays say Brignac-Rodriguez shortstop battle will come down to little things

Published Feb. 21, 2012

PORT CHARLOTTE — The biggest position battle in Rays camp will be at shortstop, and the decision between Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez may be determined by the little things.

"A lot of it has to do with under-the-hood kind of stuff, actually," manager Joe Maddon said at Monday's camp-opening media conference. "The different things we want to see each guy make improvements with … regarding becoming more complete baseball players."

Without getting too specific, Maddon said each will be given a checklist of things to work on including physical mechanics, "baseball stuff" such as base­running and "instinctive kind of things." What it won't be decided on is something as basic as batting average.

Otherwise, the decisions include picking from the surplus of candidates for the rotation, picking a catcher to pair with veteran Jose Molina, sorting out the bullpen and settling on a batting order to maximize the additions of 1B Carlos Peña and DH Luke Scott.

Executive vice president Andrew Friedman reiterated that they don't feel the need to trade a starter — "We don't view it as having three first basemen," he said — but acknowledged that as the spring unfolds there will be the usual trade talks.

"If there's a way for us to improve this roster, we're going to be aggressive to do so," he said.

Friedman said that in going over the 59-man spring roster, team officials were struck by how much more depth they had this season, and that several major-league-caliber players will be sent to Triple A.

YANKEE DOODLES: Veteran RHP James Shields didn't think much of Yankees GM Brian Cashman's weekend comments that New York wasn't trying and conceded the 2010 AL East title to the Rays.

"If he wants to say they conceded, that's their deal — we were trying to win," Shields said. "We wanted to win the division. It's one of the toughest divisions in baseball and to be able to have that title is awesome. …

"I hope he lets us win every game if that's the case."

ELBOW ROOM: RHP Kyle Farns­worth said the issues in his elbow that sidelined him at the end of last season went away with rest and he feels fine. "I didn't do anything, just let it heal in time," he said.

Farnsworth has added additional forearm exercises to his workout routine to try to prevent a similar breakdown. "Like any past thing you've got to keep an eye out for it in case something does pop up early and you can take care of it and get rid of it, but hopefully I'm not going to think about it at all and hopefully it's out of the way," he said.

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Brandon Gomes (coming off back surgery) and Scott (shoulder) are the only players whose workouts will be limited, Friedman said. Catchers Robinson Chirinos (broken hand) and Jose Lobaton (sore shoulder) are both ready to go after winter ball injuries.

MISCELLANY: Friedman said rookie LHP Matt Moore's innings will be watched but don't have to be limited because he's been "built up in a pretty systematic way" in the minors. … All 38 pitchers and catchers are expected for today's first workout. … Position players already in camp ahead of Sunday's first full-squad workout include OFs Brandon Guyer, Sam Fuld and Desmond Jennings; Scott; and INFs Brignac, Elliot Johnson, Jeff Keppinger, Will Rhymes and Rodriguez. … Maddon was wearing a shirt from The Rockford Files TV show (1974-80) and humming the theme song.