PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Gimenez almost signed with the Pirates before the Rays brought him into the fold on Feb. 16, when they signed the catcher to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
"Tampa Bay came in and I felt like I had a better opportunity over here, so I decided to jump on it," Gimenez said.
Gimenez, who has played in 97 Major League games in parts of three seasons with the Indians and Mariners, explained why he felt like Tampa Bay was the best opportunity for him.
"They told me when I came in that the backup job is wide open," Gimenez said, "and the fact that I'm really versatile is a big plus."
Gimenez said he can play first base, third, left field and right, while adding, "Whatever you want."
Gimenez also liked the idea of playing for a winning team.
"That's a big thing, too, a chance to get to the playoffs," Gimenez said. "That's something I've never had before -- last year with Seattle and Cleveland two years before that. I kind of went through the worst with both of those. Really, it's just a good opportunity to come in and play for Joe [Maddon] and have fun doing it. These guys have a ton of fun and they do really well. And that's really enticing for a young guy like me."
Molina embracing leadership role with Rays
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jose Molina is new to the Rays, but he arrived with elevated status since he is a veteran of 12 big league seasons as well as being one of three Molina brothers to catch in the Major Leagues.
While Molina will be looked upon to assume a big part of the catching load this season, he also will assume a role in which he will be almost like a coach, imparting his wisdom on the young backstops in camp.
When asked about Molina's impact on the team, manager Joe Maddon quipped: "Are you talking about the Reverend Molina? The one they are starting to flock to over there?"
Maddon pointed out that Molina is already embracing his role.
"J-Mo isn't going to run away from that, which I like," Maddon said. "It's great that the other catchers and the pitchers want to talk to him. ... The thing about him is that he works at it. He's willing to share it. ... Not only what he does, I think he is going to impart that information on some of the young catchers, too."
Jose Lobaton will be competing this spring to win the second catcher role, and the Venezuelan native made it clear that he likes having Molina in camp.
"With Molina here, I feel great. He likes to work, he likes to teach," Lobaton said. "He's been working with me, with all catchers, working together to do whatever he can. ... I'm happy to have Molina here and I can learn a little bit more about catching. I know he's got great experience."
Robinson Chirinos is also in competition to win the second catcher's spot.
"For me, it's a pleasure to have him here, and it's up to me if I want to get better and prove that I can be the best catcher I can be," Chirinos said. "He's here and he's a good guy to talk to about catching. I know having him here I'm going to pick up a lot of stuff from him and get better."
Baseball America has released its annual Top 100 Prospects list, and four Rays made the cut: left-hander Matt Moore (No. 2, behind Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper), shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (No. 44), right-hander Chris Archer (No. 89) and right-hander Taylor Guerrieri (No. 90). Moore was featured on the cover along with Harper and Angels outfielder Mike Trout. The Rays have had a prospect ranked in Baseball America's top 10 for 12 consecutive seasons. Moore was previously rated the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus.
The Rays' annual Sarasota/Manatee Chamber Luncheon is Friday morning at 11:30 ET at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch. Moore, Jeremy Hellickson and Jake McGee will attend, as will team president Matt Silverman. Tickets can be purchased by calling (941) 748-3411.
The Rays' Countdown to Opening Day show will air Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.