First came James Loney, a slick fielding first baseman signed as a free agent in December on the first day of baseball's winter meetings.

Two days later came shortstop Yunel Escobar, who has all the ingredients found in a Gold Glove fielder.

Then, a week before camp opened, the Rays finalized a one-year contract with Kelly Johnson, a second baseman by trade who also will see time at first base and left field and who brought his third baseman's glove to camp just in case.

Of the Rays' many goals during the offseason, one was to plug the holes in the infield. It appears they have accomplished the goal by bringing three players into the mix who should turn what was an uncharacteristic weakness in 2012 into a strength this season.

"I almost feel the infield was put together for a guy like me," pitcher Alex Cobb said. "A guy who puts the ball on the ground and sometimes gives up hard ground balls."

David Price and the other groundball pitchers on the staff also should be tickled.