Tampa Bay Rays: Five Things We Learned from Opening Week

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The defense is shaky

In addition to being known for their excellent starting pitching, the Rays have made a reputation of putting an above-average defense on the field. With previous Gold Glove winners Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria, defense was something they could be proud of.

After one week, an area that was believed to be a big strength may have cost the team a game or two.

Logan Morrison was given the starting first base job which followed the thinking of adding more power to the lineup (now a dismal 1-for-18 start). It was obvious the team was risking defense. Then came the release of slick-fielding James Loney, which raised a few eyebrows.

But despite the team having only one error credited to them there has been some shaky defense and it will probably plague the team the whole year. For a team that values run prevention it will be interesting to see how it moves forward.

This play by Morrison is a prime example. The outcome ultimately went in the Rays favor, but shows the indecisiveness in his play.

Morrison was not the only one that has had issues. The other position where the Rays sacrificed defense for offense was the catching position. Hank Conger will not win any Silver Slugger Awards any time soon, but the thought was he could provide a lot more offense, and from the left side, than Rene Rivera did last year. This play against the Orioles was deemed a wild pitch and cost the Rays a late run in a close game. An above-average catcher would have blocked this very easily.

Unlike hitting and pitching, where tweaks can be made at the plate or on the mound, defense is something that will be hard to improve upon moving forward. This all could be early-season rust, but these plays that do not show up in the box score can be the difference in close wild card races in September.

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