Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Former Catcher Jaso an Option in Outfield

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Former Catcher Jaso an Option in Outfield

Article excerpt


RAYS: Back with Tampa Bay, but it won't be behind the plate

What started as shagging fly balls has turned into a viable option in the outfield for John Jaso.

Early in camp, Jaso tracked balls during batting practice early in spring training on the back fields at the Charlotte Sports Park complex.

"I'm enjoying the outfield experiences so far in the practices and everything," Jaso said earlier this spring.

He picked the brains of the outfielders who have spent their entire careers there.

"How do you do this? How do you do that?" Jaso said. "Just learning about the position a little bit more than just shagging fly balls in BP."

From there it escalated.

"He was reading the ball off the bat. He looked great," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "The outfielders did light throwing and every ball he threw was right on line."

Cash then asked Jaso his comfort level in the outfield.

"From speaking with him, he was comfortable with it," the manager said. "We didn't anticipate him getting out there until toward the end of spring, but we've got him coming in the third or fourth game of the year and see how it goes. If it's good, we'll keep working him out there."

Friday against Toronto, Jaso made his third start in left field.

"It's going well," he said. "I haven't had anything too tough hit at me or anything like that. The balls that have been hit at me have been nice and easy to get the butterflies out of my gut and make those easy plays.

"I'm still anticipating that running catch or diving catch."

Jaso tracked a ground ball double in the corner in his first game and caught a fly ball off the bat of Baltimore's Delmon Young in Sarasota in his second.

He admitted feeling nervous the first time out, but that went away after a short while.

"Getting those first two balls hit to me calmed me down," Jaso said.

His ventures in the outfield were the first since travel ball during his junior year in high school. …

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