Rays in good shape behind plate for 2018

While speculation runs rampant about who will play where for the next season, the catching spot, ironically, appears rock solid.

For years, Tampa Bay’s biggest void could be found behind the plate. Heading into the 2018 season, the team has two reliable backstops in and . Not only can they handle the catching duties, but they can also provide a little offense.

Both joined the Rays last season via different paths. Ramos came as a free agent who finished his 2016 season with a right knee injury that required surgery. The subsequent recovery period allowed Tampa Bay to ink Ramos to a below-market two-year, $12.5 million deal.

Ramos did not begin playing for the Rays until June, and slowly but surely, the veteran catcher began to show why he is so valued. In his first season with Tampa Bay, he hit .260 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs, and he finished strong, hitting .317 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in September.

If the Rays are not in contention by the non-waiver Trade Deadline this season , there should be plenty of suitors standing in line to make a deal for Ramos.

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The Rays acquired Sucre in a trade with the Mariners just before Spring Training last season, and he made the club, primarily because Tampa Bay’s pitchers liked throwing to him. Playing in 63 games, he hit .256 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs.

Span was asked who helped show him the ropes when he was a young player just getting into the Major Leagues.

“Torii Hunter when I was in Minnesota,” Span said. “Michael Cuddyer. Justin Morneau. Those guys were really the ones who taught me how to be a professional. Taught me how to strap it on every day and be ready to play the game. Just honestly, to learn how to be a grinder. It’s a crazy up-and-down season, but just being able to weather the storm more mentally than physically.”

Span said he’d like to pass along what was passed along to him, particularly how to keep an “even head.”

“You’re going to have a lot of ups and downs,” Span said. “There’s going to be some 0-for-20s, some 0-for-30s, some bad weeks when you can’t buy a win, things aren’t going your way. Just trusting the process.

“Come in every day with the mentality that today is the day when things can be turned around. That’s been the story of my career. More ups than downs, but I think I’ve been able to weather the storm.”

Honeywell didn’t need anybody to tell him what had transpired.

“Right when it happened, I knew what it was,” he said.

Adding frustration to the situation was the way Honeywell was throwing the ball when the injury occurred.

“What I was throwing out there yesterday was some powerful stuff,” Honeywell said. “And that’s the most powerful I’ve been in seven pitches my whole career right there. That’s what frustrates me the most.”

Honeywell spent Thursday afternoon at the office of team orthopedic , who confirmed Honeywell’s suspicion. Though he recommended Tommy John surgery, he told Honeywell he should get a second opinion. Honeywell plans to get the second opinion, even though he’s already made up his mind to have the surgery.

Honeywell said he’s not exactly sure when that surgery will take place, but he added, “I want to get the show on the road. I don’t want to be waiting around. I want to get it done. I want to be ready to go as quick as possible.”

Due to the many off-days early in the season, the Rays plan to use a four-man rotation in April. Included in that rotation are Chris Archer, Blake Snell, and . They will expand to five pitchers in May, which could have been the starting point for Honeywell’s Major League career. That won’t happen now, but Cash said Honeywell has already made his mark within the organization.

“You can look at it a couple of different ways,” Cash said. “I’m looking at it he’s checked off a lot of boxes in his development in the last two years. It could be better now than earlier or even later once he got to the big leagues. He might not see it that way, but for what he’s accomplished the last two years, he should get healthy and pick up where he left off [once he returns].”

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