Jaso steps out from behind the dish for Rays

Catcher-turned-DH getting fresh experience this spring, including outfield work

Jaso steps out from behind the dish for Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Spring Training feels a little different for John Jaso this year.

He's back where he started from, joining the Rays in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics, but it's more than that. Jaso, a catcher by trade, is not catching this spring.

"It has been strange," Jaso said. "It's been really strange. My hips should be a lot more sore now than they are. The routine for catchers at the start of Spring Training is so intense. So not being a part of that is different. It's not taking a toll on my body, but it still feels like that workload is missing. You do kind of miss it in the same sense."

Jaso had his season end early in 2014 due to concussion-like symptoms for the second consecutive year. His last game was Aug. 23, causing him to miss the A's final 34 games. In 2013, he missed the final 61 games.

But the Rays are interested in Jaso for what he can bring to the offense. So he will be wearing a number of gloves this spring -- just don't count on a catcher's mitt being one of them.

Thus far, he's been working mostly in left field.

John Jaso and Boog Powell chase down a fly ball during outfield drills. (AP)

"It's going well," said Jaso, who will spend a lot of time in the designated-hitter slot. "I play a lot of balls off the bat during [batting practice] and get my work in that way, and at the same time, staying out of the way of the regular outfielders.

"That's pretty much where I'm getting the bulk of my work in -- just reading balls off the bat. The way they move. When a left-hander hits a ball to left field as opposed to when a right-hander hits a ball to left."

While Jaso allowed he will miss being behind the plate, he admits to being curious about his offense receiving a positive bump from not experiencing the physical demands of catching.

"I know catching a lot can give you weak legs in the box," Jaso said. "It's going to be interesting to see. I think the only thing is the pressure of, if you're solely a DH, more offensive pressure."

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Jaso has "looked really good" in the outfield, particularly his ability to read the ball off the bat and his accurate throws. He added that Jaso appears comfortable in the outfield.

"We probably didn't anticipate him getting out there until towards the end of spring," Cash said. "But I think we've got him coming in the third or fourth game of the year and see how it goes. If he's good we'll keep working him out there. That's a great asset for us to have."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.