The Rays have elected to shut down infielder Matt Duffy for two weeks, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, citing back and hamstring injuries. Duffy, then, will begin the regular season on the injured list, and his absence may extend beyond the minimum 10 days on the IL.
Injuries have plagued Duffy’s entire tenure with the Rays. The now 28-year-old third baseman was acquired from the Giants in July 2016, suffered an Achilles injury later that summer and missed the entire 2017 season as a result. He also spent a bit of time on the disabled list due to a hamstring strain in 2018 as well, though he managed to suit up for 132 games last year.
Defensive metrics have typically regarded Duffy as a superlative option at third base, and at the plate he’s mixed strong contact skills with a solid walk rate. He’s only demonstrated modest power at his best, however, and most of his pop eroded in 2018 (.072 ISO, four homers in 560 plate appearances).
With Duffy sidelined to begin the season, Tampa Bay will likely turn to Joey Wendle at third base, with recently extended Brandon Lowe seeing regular work at second base. Offseason pickup Yandy Diaz can also play third, but he’ll line up at first base and designated hitter as well in the season’s early stages.