Athletics Rays BaseballAs expected, Matt Joyce was demoted to Durham following yesterday’s game to make room for the return of BJ Upton. Upton will start in center field for tonight’s home opener and bat lead off. And based on his 7 steal attempts in his 3 rehab starts, our guess is Upton is going to be running early, and often.

And buried at the bottom of Marc Topkin’s piece, Joe Maddon may be considering another lineup change.

Maddon is deciding between Ben Zobrist and Gabe Gross to start in right tonight

This suggests that Maddon is considering a change in which Zobrist becomes at least the left-handed half of a right field platoon, permanently replacing Gross. Last season, Zobrist was a better hitter against lefties (.269BA/.356OBP v LHP, .242/.328 v RHP) but showed more power against righties (.542 SLG v RHP, .449 SLG v LHP).

If Zobrist does replace Gross in right field, one has to wonder if Gross would soon be on the way out. Gross is not the kind of player Maddon likes to have on his bench. Maddon prefers players with positional flexibility and that is not Gabe Gross.

If Zobrist does replace Gross, the next logical step would seem to be Adam Kennedy replacing Gross on the roster and assuming the role of backup middle infielder.

As expected, Joyce sent to Durham [Rays Report]
Excitement for Tampa Bay Rays’ celebration grows [St. Pete Times]

 
 

6 Comments

  1. Brixology says:

    Maddon is quoted in Lancaster’s post today citing a hypothetical CC, BJ, Joyce outfield. It seems like Joyce has a real opportunity if he can light up AAA a little.

  2. WiNKy says:

    Sweetness. The more playing time Zobrist sees, the more camera shots we’ll get of his Christian rock goddess wife… his greatest achievement thus far.

  3. MJ says:

    The way Gross has been looking at the plate so far, Im fine with this move. I was hoping Joyce had impressed Maddon and co. enough to stay up in the bigs already.

    Just when I thought nothing could bring me down from the high of tonight’s home opener… thoughts and prayers go out to Todd Kalas with the passing of his legendary dad, Harry Kalas.

  4. Joe D. says:

    I think the Durham Bulls might be a better team then the Washington Nats.

  5. Mark says:

    Great post.

    Kennedy as a back up infielder and Zobrist splitting time in right field with Kapler until Joyce is ready sounds like a solid plan to me.

  6. chaz says:

    Kapler has shown nothing but the ability to create outs since he has been with the Rays. Zobrist should be taking his spot and if he is hitting well than make him the perminant right fielder. Gross will warm up like he showed signs of tonight. Plus, anyone that Nick Swisher strikes out should not be on the field.

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