In manager Joe Maddon's head, spring training should be almost over. To think it's barely past the halfway point, with three more weeks to go, he said Saturday "is almost hard to believe." As much of a drag that it is, thanks to the World Baseball Classic-induced early opening, the plus side is that they have more time to make the few decisions they face. Here's a quick look, with some educated guesses at resolution: Fifth starter Roberto Hernandez has looked good, kind of like he did when he was known as Fausto Carmona for the Indians. Given the need for an innings-eater to replace RHP James Shields, and the checkered injury history of RHP Jeff Niemann, Hernandez looks like the strong favorite, with RHP Chris Archer a pretty solid backup plan if needed. The Rays will say Niemann — who is out of options — could end up in the bullpen, but if they are comfortable with all their other starters, look for an end-of-spring trade. Backup catcher Chris Gimenez thus far has done absolutely everything he can to win the job: solid behind the plate, hitting as well as he did at the end of last season, the added benefit of being able to play other positions. But it most likely still won't matter. Jose Lobaton is out of options, which means he can't be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers, and the Rays don't have enough depth to risk losing him, so he'll get the job, and Gimenez will go to Triple A.
Rays' position battles clearing up
Tampa Bay Times | Mar 10