Energetic rookie offers much-needed flexibility with Forsythe on disabled list
By Andrew Astleford
Special to MLB.com |
ST. PETERSBURG -- Taylor Motter entered the Rays' clubhouse at 10:36 a.m. ET Sunday for his first experience in the Major Leagues and offered the promise of versatility.
He traded hugs and hand slaps with many of his new teammates, including reliever Steve Geltz and catcher Curt Casali, all while flashing a large smile after being promoted from Triple-A Durham. When he stopped near his locker, under a small blue-and-yellow placard that read, "Taylor Motter 38," the young infielder/outfielder was eager to contribute.
"I'm just here to do whatever the team needs," said Motter, 26. "Whatever they need -- pinch-hit or pinch-run, someone to go play defensively, that's fine. I'm just here to help the guys win, hopefully."
Motter's versatility looms even larger for the Rays with second baseman Logan Forsythe on the 15-day disabled list with a hairline fracture of the left shoulder blade. Drafted by the Rays in the 17th round in 2011, Motter played in the outfield, at shortstop and at second and third base with Durham this season. His 18 starts at shortstop this year are particularly appealing to Rays manager Kevin Cash.
"He's going to play a big role," Cash said. "Knowing Taylor has the ability to play short, I think we feel comfortable putting him anywhere on the field. He's going to bring a ton of energy like we saw in Spring Training."
Motter indeed left a favorable impression with Cash during at Rays camp this year. Motter hit .250 (8-for-32) with one home run and four RBIs in 14 games during the Grapefruit League season. Named Durham's most valuable player in 2015, he was selected in April as Tampa Bay's top rookie during Spring Training.
Before his promotion, Motter hit .190 with four home runs, 10 RBIs and eight stolen bases with Durham.
"Just all the hard work you see that you've put in, it's finally starting to pay off," Motter said. "It's great to see. It's great to be here. It's great to finally see the fruits of your labor."
Others felt a similar way. Later Sunday morning, first baseman Logan Morrison welcomed Motter by presenting the young player with an orange suit as a nod to Lloyd Christmas, Jim Carrey's character in "Dumb & Dumber."
Motter had arrived, smiles and all, and the discovery is set to begin.
"He's pumped," Cash said. "I know our clubhouse is pumped to see him."
Andrew Astleford is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.