Brignac presents options for Rays
Rookie earns Tuesday start after strong performance
BALTIMORE -- Reid Brignac opened some eyes with a 4-for-4 performance Monday night, specifically, Joe Maddon's, as the Rays manager gave the rookie another start Tuesday night.
Brignac's name should be more prominent among team discussions about the 2010 season, since he will present some interesting options.
Brignac is a quality shortstop, which is why he's remained in the Minor Leagues. The organization has preferred to keep him playing shortstop at Triple-A Durham on an everyday basis as insurance rather than having him serve as a bench player in the Major Leagues.
A night after starting at shortstop, Brignac was penciled in at second base Tuesday night against the Orioles, specifically because of his offensive contribution Monday night. Rays fans could see Brignac at second base a lot more in the future.
Akinori Iwmaura currently is the team's second baseman. Tampa Bay has a $4.25 million option for his services in 2010 or it can exercise the buyout at $250,000. Based on the personnel the Rays have and the necessity to manage their payroll, there's a good chance Iwamura won't be back next season.
If that's the direction the Rays go, the options for who will start at second base will include Ben Zobrist; Sean Rodriguez (the player to be named later in the Scott Kazmir trade ), and Brignac.
But even if Brignac doesn't win the battle for second base, there's a good chance he will be the team's utility man. Zobrist will likely be the starting right fielder or second baseman, which means the Rays will need another player to back up shortstop Jason Bartlett and to back up the second base starter.
Brignac understands his situation and knows what he wants.
"Any opportunity to stay up here in the Major Leagues with this team is what I want to do," Brignac said. "But I would like to play short every day and I know if Bart's back, that's probably not going to happen. But any scenario for me to stay up is a win for me."
Brignac was used at second in Durham about once a week. He said he feels comfortable at the position and will only grow more comfortable the more he plays there.
The possibility of playing second has always been included in Brignac's mind, even during offseason workouts with his friend Ryan Theriot of the Cubs.
"I've always done a little bit [of work at both positions] in the offseason," Brignac said. "Ryan played both for a while. He would always give me pointers and in the offseason we would work on both sides of the bag, because to have more than one position available, it's better for me to stay."
Brignac feels more comfortable playing in the Majors this season than he did in 2008, when he had 10 at-bats in four games and did not get a hit.
"I'm definitely feeling a lot more comfortable," Brignac said. "Last year was my first time and I didn't get that many at-bats. Now I'm feeling more like myself at the plate."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.