Rays Roundup: Scott In, Damon Out

In this week's addition of Rays Roundup: Luke Scott is signed to fill an offensive need, Andrew Friedman isn't done shopping for bats, Johnny Damon is disappointed to not be returning to Rays and Matt Joyce has been working out at first base. All of this plus notes and quotes inside.

The signing of Luke Scott gives the Rays one of the two bats they hoped to add to improve the overall production of their offense.

Executive VP Andrew Friedman said they are casting a broad net for the other.

Even though Scott is not considered a good fielder at first base, Friedman claimed they were open to playing him there if they could add a big enough bat to fill the DH spot.

"We obviously value defense a lot, but there's times where enough offense trips that line and makes it something that makes sense for the team," Friedman said.

The remaining free agent DHs are not overly attractive -- the list includes Vlad Guerrero, Hideki Matsui and Manny Ramirez. The candidates at first base would seem much more appealing, including Rays 2011 starter Casey Kotchman, former Ray Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee. Trade candidates range from the Angels Mark Trumbo to the White Sox's Paul Konerko.

"We're just looking for a bat," Friedman said. "We like to have optionality. We like to be as flexible as we can be. We don't want to pigeonhole ourselves into any one area if we can avoid it just because it expands the applicant pool.

We're just going through a long list of names right now trying to figure out how we can line up on the best player that we can, when factoring in offense, fit with our offensive unit, defense, and the net result."


--DH Johnny Damon was disappointed to not get to return to the Rays after hitting .261 with 16 homers and 73 RBI last season. "It's an unhappy day," Damon texted the Tampa Bay Times. "Didn't realize the DH and 1B brought the offense down. Thought we would've had an offer."

--DH/1B/OF Luke Scott said he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from July surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder, and is confident he will be ready to hit by opening day. He is hopeful of having the arm strength to play first base by then, and said he should be ready to return to the outfield by May or June.

--RHP Alex Cobb said everything has gone well in his recovery from August surgery to remove a blockage and part of his first right rib. Cobb has been working out and expects to be fully ready for spring training.

--C Nevin Ashley was dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for the addition of DH/OF/1B Luke Scott. Ashley, 27, has yet to play in the majors, splitting last season between Class A Montgomery and Class AAA Durham, hitting a combined .263 with eight homers and 48 RBI.

--OF Matt Joyce has been taking groundballs at first base at the Rays' request, but infield coach Tom Foley said it's purely an attempt to see if he could be used as a fill-in during a game, not a precursor to the position change. "We're just toying with an idea, in a pinch, can Joyce go over there," Foley said.

--LHP David Price was excited to be in Los Angeles to tape a TV spot for the MLB2K12 video game, along with major-leaguers Justin Verlander, C.J. Wilson and Jay Bruce.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- AL hitters besides new Ray Luke Scott to post at least a .269 average, 84 doubles and 75 home runs over the 2008-10 seasons: Evan Longoria, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's gonna be a joy." -- new Ray and former Oriole Luke Scott, on no longer having to face the Rays pitching staff, which has held him to a .227 average for his career.

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