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Rays set to take on Pirates with a different look

Yoshi Tsutsugo will play first base, Vidal Brujan centerfield as versatility is again a key topic for Tampa Bay.
Vidal Brujan, one of the Rays’ many promising middle infield prospects, will start today in centerfield.
Vidal Brujan, one of the Rays’ many promising middle infield prospects, will start today in centerfield. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Mar. 3
Updated Mar. 3

The Rays are set to take on the Pirates today in Port Charlotte and will have a couple of players in different positions.

Yoshi Tsutsugo will make his first appearance at first base, as the Rays try to expand his versatility beyond leftfield and third base in their search for more overall depth. Manager Kevin Cash said Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz remain in the plans to “play a lot of first base.”

Vidal Brujan, one of the Rays’ many promising middle infield prospects, will start in centerfield. He saw time in the outfield previously during spring training and also in winter ball, and the Rays see this as a way to make him more valuable.

Since Brujan is on the 40-man roster, he would likely be in line for a call-up if a middle infielder got hurt.

Also today, Choi makes his first appearance of the spring as the designated hitter.

Shane McClanahan and Josh Fleming are among the Rays’ scheduled pitchers, with both competing to make the team in a starter/bulk-inning role. Also listed to pitch are Hunter Strickland, Andrew Kittredge, Stetson Allie, Jeffrey Springs and Joey Krehbiel.

Also Wednesday:

* Cash said the Rays are still sorting through the impact of Major League Baseball’s decision to delay the start of the Triple-A season a month.

* Brujan, via team interpreter Manny Navarro, raved about top prospect Wander Franco: “He’s got such quick hands, sometimes I think he’s not even human.”

Here is the Rays lineup:

Meadows lf

B. Lowe 2b

Zunino c

Choi dh

Tsutsugo 1b

Wendle 3b

Franco ss

J. Lowe rf

Brujan cf

McClanahan p

The Pirates’ lineup, with ex-Ray Michael Perez behind the plate:

Goodwin cf

Difo 3b

Evans rf

Moran 1b

Cruz ss

Perez c

Wolters dh

Kramer 2b

Stokes lf

Brault p