I watched Davey Martinez as a player, and over the years as manager Joe Maddon's bench coach. With all he has learned from Joe, do you think a manager's job is not too far away for him?
-- Jeff H., Fort Myers, Fla.
I remember covering Martinez when he played for the Rays. He was athletic, had a strong arm, could hit, played with enthusiasm and had the right temperament. Based on that background and the fact that he's spent a lot of time standing next to Maddon over the past several years, I think Martinez would make a terrific Major League manager. I know he has come up short after interviewing for several jobs, which I don't think can be attributed to any kind of flaw. I've got to believe a manager's job is close for Martinez.
With Jeremy Hellickson sidelined, will the Rays rely on a rookie starter, or will they go after a veteran free agent?
-- David S., California
Hellickson recently underwent surgery to have some "loose bodies" removed from his right elbow, and he is expected to return in May. In his absence, right-hander Jake Odorizzi is the favorite to fill the void in the rotation. If Odorizzi doesn't turn out to be the guy, right-hander Alex Colome would likely be the answer. After Colome, perhaps Enny Romero. That's a long way of saying that I don't believe the Rays will venture outside the organization to grab a veteran starter. Then again, Tampa Bay always seems to find a way to hedge its bets, so the team might have other thoughts.
Jose Lobaton seems to have improved defensively and has some power from the left side. With the scarcity of catching in their farm system and the age of Jose Molina, would the Rays not try to find a way to keep him?
-- Lloyd K., Sarasota, Fla.
I would agree with you on Lobaton's improvements, particularly what he showed at the end of the season. The problem is that he is out of options, which means another team could claim him if the Rays do not have him on their 25-man roster. There is a chance that Tampa Bay could keep three catchers -- Molina and Ryan Hanigan being the other two -- but more than likely, Lobaton will be the odd man out and the one who is traded.
How is Hak-Ju Lee doing now? Has he recovered from his surgery? I haven't seen much about him at all.
-- Daton C., Exington, Tenn.
Lee sustained a season-ending knee injury at Triple-A Durham early in 2013. Prior to that, he was considered to be on the fast lane to play for the Rays. In the few times I've Lee play during Spring Training, I've been impressed with his glove. He is well above average defensively. Lee also impressed me with his speed when he beat out a drag bunt. But his offense remains the part of his game that needs to improve, which made missing 2013 a tough situation, since he needed the at-bats. From what I've heard, Lee should be ready to play this season.
The Rays seem to have a knack for getting no-hitters and perfect games thrown against them. Why do you think that is? Do you think they will again become victims of a no-hitter or perfect game this season?
-- Brad D., Tampa, Fla.
Since 2009, the Rays have been no-hit four times. Three of those were perfect, making them the only team in baseball history to have three such games thrown against them during the regular season. Why have they been no-hit so many times? There is no rhyme or reason for such a freak occurrence. The one thing I can attest to is the fact that the Rays never let the embarrassment of being no-hit fester. By that I mean the no-hitters did not trigger any kind of losing binge. As for this season, looking ahead at the schedule, Tampa Bay plays at Kansas City on April 7, potentially facing former Rays right-hander James Shields. Looks like a trap game that has all the markings for a no-no. (I'm just kidding.)