Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Assorted Rays tidbits
Posted Jan 10, 2008 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Jan 10, 2008 at 09:09 PM
The Rays wrapped up their annual organizational meetings earlier today, with a handful of news items emerging in the wake of those sessions. We’ll go ahead and bullet-point them:
* Andrew Friedman said no decision has been made yet on whether Evan Longoria will break camp with the big-league team, but that call might be made before spring training even begins. The Rays as a rule don’t like to do too much evaluating of players during the spring, because games in March aren’t a true indicator of how players will perform during the regular season, and there seems to be some sentiment that Longoria might be better off knowing where he stands before Grapefruit League play. I can see both sides, but if the Rays say Longoria’s not going to make the big-league team and he goes out and hits .400 with some pop in March, they’ll be faced with an awfully skeptical fan base if they stick to their plan.
* The Rays continue to seek a super-utility guy who can play third base and first base, at least—preferably a left-handed hitter. If he can play right and left, too, so much the better. They’re still beating the bushes for a lefty reliever as well but that doesn’t seem as much of an emphasis.
* Along with the players recently signed to minor-league deals and invited to spring training, the in-house, non-40-man players invited to camp are: Longoria, Reid Brignac, Wade Davis, Chris Mason and Jake McGee.
* The team hired former major-league infielder Tim Bogar to serve as a “quality assurance” coach with the major-league team. Bogar, 43, will step into a newly created job that blends coaching and scouting. He’ll work with the players in uniform during batting practice but will spend the game in the stands, scouting the Rays and looking for tendencies opponents may be exploiting. Joe Maddon pushed hard for this addition and it sounds as if Bogar’s job description will evolve as the season progresses and everyone gets a feel for how to best utilize him.
* Speaking of the coaching staff, Bill Evers has decided to remain in the organization as a scout. The former bench coach, whose contract wasn’t renewed after last season, will also have some player-development responsibilities.
* In other personnel moves, the Rays added a third trainer to their major-league staff, promoting Nick Paparesta from his previous position overseeing the minor-league training program. In turn, Mark Vinson was promoted to minor-league rehabilitation and training coordinator, Jimmy Southard was moved up to become Durham’s trainer and Joel Smith will take over as trainer in Montgomery, while Scott Thurston was named Princeton’s trainer. Along with Evers, the Rays named Joe Nigro (who had been with the Mets for more than a decade) as a pro scout. On the amateur scouting side, Kevin Elfering was promoted to East Coast cross-checker and Evan Brannon, Jayson Durocher and Brian Hickman were named area scouts.
* The Rays named minor-league hitting coordinator Steve Livesey as the player development man of the year and West Coast cross-checker Fred Repke (who signed Longoria, McGee and James Shields) as scout of the year.
* Tickets for individual spring training games go on sale beginning tomorrow. Fans can buy tickets online only at http://www.raysbaseball.com or http://www.raysbeisbol.com beginning at 9 a.m. Friday. Tickets can be purchased on the phone (727-898-RAYS or 813-282-RAYS) or in person at Tropicana Field, the Rays’ Tampa office and all Ticketmaster locations beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. Single-game tickets for regular-season games will go on sale Feb. 23.