Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Jose Martinez has arrived in camp for the first time today. He confirmed that he had tested positive for coronavirus. He did feel sick with cold symptoms for a day, but otherwise felt fine during his 14-day quarantine, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links).
The Rays have had a number of their higher-profile players test positive for COVID-19, including Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows. Like Martinez, Glasnow is now back with the club getting ready for Opening Day. Meadows remains out without a definite timetable for his return.
Martinez thinks he’ll be able to go by Opening Day, but there’s no reason to overextend the slugger to get him ready. Martinez figures to get regular time at least against left-handers, though they may make an effort to get him on the field more frequently if he slugs. His primary utility is as a designated hitter, but he’s capable of giving the old college try at first base or right field as well. With the Cardinals last season, Martinez hit .269/.340/.410, down a bit in the power department from his career norms. With 42 of his at-bats coming as a pinch-hitter, however, the Rays are betting that more regular playing time will return Martinez to a level more commensurate with his .458 career slugging.
If he’s not ready by the start of the season, the Rays have built out an impressive collection of depth in the corner infielder/outfielder department. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Hunter Renfroe, Nate Lowe or Brandon Lowe could all see time in the corners or at designated hitter. Brendan McKay could also get some at-bats at DH when he’s not on the hill.