As the Tampa Bay Rays prepare for the 2017 season, injuries have again reared their ugly head and a couple of key players will start the season on the DL.
SS Matt Duffy acquired from San Francisco will not be ready opening day. He had surgery on his heel in September and has still not been involved in any type of drills. Tim Beckaham and Nick franklin are in a battle to take his place on the roster, with Beckham having the upper hand right now.
OF Colby Rasmus will also start the season on the DL as he recovers from off-season hip surgery. Rasmus is able to DH but not yet able to play the field. This opens up a spot for Mallex Smith who was acquired from Seattle in the Drew Smyly deal.
P Brad Boxberger is on the DL. Boxberger is dealing with a sore lower back and has not thrown in a game yet in spring training. With Boxberger on the DL that opens up a spot for Chase Whitley, Jose Diaz, or Shawn Tolleson. Tolleson has not been impressive so i think he does not make the team. Jamie Schultz and Austin Pruitt are still in the running for a bullpen spot. Kevin Cash said a decision will not be made till the final day of spring training.
C Wilson Ramos will be out till mid summer as he continues his rehab from off-season surgery. Ramos may be able to DH sometime in May, but will not be able to play defensively till mid-season. The Rays signed C Derek Norris to a contract over the weekend. Norris signed for 1.2 million and 800k in incentives.
The catcher position with the acquisition of Norris has been turned upseide down Last year the duo of Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Bobby Wilson were the worst catching trio in MLB. Horrible defensively and not much to brag about offensively.
Casali and Maile will probably not be on the roster come opening day. One will be traded and the other will be sent to Durham. My guess is Casali will go the minors and the Rays will try to trade Maile.
C Jesus Sucre also acquired in the Smyly deal has been a pleasant surprise. Sucre has been very good handling the staff, better than average defensively, and has surprised everyone with his offense. Sucre will platoon with Derek Norris at the catcher position until perennial all star Wilson Ramos returns this summer.
The regular season begins next Sunday at home against the New York Yankees. Chris Archer will get the start for the Rays,