Robertson looks to be Rays' next utility stud

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- "Positional flexibility" is a popular phrase around Rays camp. It has been ever since Joe Maddon arrived to manage the team prior to the 2006 season.

If you join the Rays, better bring some extra gloves along, because chances are, they're going to want to take a look at you playing other positions. Daniel Robertson came to the Rays prior to the 2015 season in the five-player deal that sent Ben Zobrist -- one of the aforementioned positional flexibility standards -- to the A's. Shortstop was Robertson's main position until last season at Triple-A Durham, where he started 75 games at shortstop, 20 games at third and 21 at second.

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Robertson is ready to keep moving around this spring.

"Honestly, last year got me used to it," Robertson said. "I moved between short, second and third, something I'd never really done. I'm up to do it for sure. You just prepare different.

"Obviously during BP when you're taking ground balls, you want to be at all three positions. I feel comfortable at all three. It's going to be a good opportunity moving around to all three and get some time there. See what happens."

Robertson found himself at third base during the Rays' first Grapefruit League game on Friday night at Hammond Stadium against the Twins. Batting out of the two-hole, he drove in the Rays' first run of the spring with an RBI single in the third inning of Friday night's 3-1 win.

He's a candidate among the likes of Nick Franklin and Tim Beckham to earn a utility spot. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, he is bigger than both, and he has the capability to go deep. The 15 home runs he hit for Class A Advanced Stockton in 2014 represent his career high.

Moving positions once meant a player wasn't quite good enough to lock down a regular spot. Over the past decade or so, it's evolved into a badge of honor.

"I would agree," Robertson said. "I mean, especially in this organization. They love to move guys around. You see it with veteran guys who've come through here in the past. Like Sean Rodriguez or Ben Zobrist, those kinds of guys who played multiple positions and really established themselves. I'd love to be able to do the same type of thing those guys did."

Three gloves sit in Robertson's locker this spring.

"But I've got more on the way," said Robertson, noting that the glove he uses for third is larger than the other two. And the ones he uses for shortstop and second are the same model.

"But the way I form my glove for second is a little different than how I do it for short," Robertson said. "Same size, just a little different how I work it."

What about a first baseman's mitt? Robertson smiled at the question.

"If there comes a day I need to grab one, or an outfielder's glove, I'll do so," he said. "But until I get word that I need one of those, I'll just keep working at those three infield positions."

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