Duffy stresses health in first workout at Trop

Cash: New shortstop could make Rays debut within a week

Duffy stresses health in first workout at Trop

ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Duffy worked out at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, two days after the Rays acquired him in the trade that sent Matt Moore to the Giants.

Duffy, who is on the disabled list with a left Achilles strain, hit and fielded ground balls at shortstop, the position he will play for the Rays.

"It was really good to meet him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We've heard a ton of good things about him. We're excited to get him back and playing for us here soon."

Duffy arrived to the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday night. The plan for him is to continue his rehab at Class A Charlotte, where he'll play before returning over the weekend to be re-evaluated. Cash said they don't want to put a timetable on when he might join the team, but he speculated that within the week would be fair.

From watching him workout on Wednesday, Cash observed the following: "Real short, compact swing. Professional approach. He's not up there looking to yank balls. He's up there hitting line drives all over the ballpark."

Cash noted that Duffy has a "line-drive, flat swing, puts the ball in play."

"Does a lot of things offensively that help you win games," Cash said. "He can steal a base, he can bunt, and obviously, he can drive the ball also."

Duffy's solo home run

One of the first things Duffy told reporters was, "I'm healthy."

"I'd like to say that right now," Duffy said. "I wasn't far, maybe a week, a week and a half a way from returning. Just making sure that I'm 100 percent confident with this thing going forward with everything I'm going to ask of my Achilles on the baseball field. I think that's the key."

In addition to making sure he's healthy, Duffy will be asked to return to shortstop. He's been playing third base for the Giants.

"When I think about the transition to third, the toughest thing was mentally slowing myself down because balls get on you so much more quickly," Duffy said. "You have so much more time to throw the ball. So I think going back [to shortstop], the biggest change for me is going to be speeding myself back up because I'm going to have more time now to set my feet in a position to throw versus before you kind of play hockey goalie, then set your feet to throw."

Once Duffy joins the Rays, he stressed that getting familiar with the players around him will be a priority.

"That's a big thing," Duffy said. "I think it's an underrated thing with infield play. The communication aspect. What guys like, where they like it, [that] sort of thing also."

Incumbent shortstop Brad Miller will soon begin working toward making the transition to first base, while Duffy returns to his original position. Duffy allowed that he wasn't sure if he'd ever return to shortstop, but added: "I've always felt I could."

"Being where I was in San Francisco, it was communicated to me to be the best third baseman I could," Duffy said. "That was kind of my focus, and I just really kind of bore down on that -- especially with [Brandon] Crawford at shortstop over there. I knew I wasn't getting there any time soon. ... Now I'll shift gears and change my mindset to be the best shortstop I can be."

Duffy will wear No. 5. He smiled when asked about how he came to wear the number.

"I was given 50 when I got called up and [teammate] Jeremy Affeldt made the comment I needed to change my number to a single digit because 50 was too big for my back," Duffy said. "So I just dropped the zero and said, 'Is this good for you, Jeremy?' and he said, 'Yeah, I like that better.'"

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.