CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Notes: Guzman arrives at camp

Notes: Guzman arrives at camp

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joel Guzman arrived in camp Tuesday morning to earn the distinction as the first to arrive from a troika of Rays players struggling with visa problems.

Waiting for his visa to come through proved frustrating for Guzman.

"Oh man, I was like dying to be here," Guzman said. "You're waiting and waiting for a call, just to be here, waiting for something to happen."

More

Guzman completed all of his required paperwork to obtain a visa early and hoped to be in camp by Feb. 14, only it didn't work out that way.

"It takes time, that's why I tried to do it early," Guzman said. "For me, [this year] was the longest time [it's ever taken]. Last year it took some time, but this year there's something different we have to do, like take a physical, and it takes time to get results."

Delays were inevitable.

"They always ask for something else," Guzman said. "This year there's a new rule. For each player it's something different."

Guzman finally arrived Monday night around 11 ET.

Despite the delay, he feels ready to play. Guzman, along with Willy Aybar and Juan Salas -- the other two Rays players with visa problems -- has been working out at the Rays academy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He understands the competitive situation he is entering into this spring.

Guzman is in competition for the starting third-base job if Evan Longoria does not win the spot in the spring. And if Longoria does win the job, Guzman will be in competition for a utility role with the team. He can play all of the infield positions, and the Rays plan to take a look at him in the outfield as well.

"Oh yeah, I know the situation [in camp]," Guzman said. "I'd rather be here. ... It's frightening if you're not here. You're home watching TV or SportsCenter, and they're giving Spring Training reports. And I'm like what am I doing here?"

Spring Training
News and features:
Multimedia:
• Chastain on Longoria, Aybar  400K
• Yanks-Rays incident  400K
• Spring Spotlight: Rays  400K
• Shields on his contract  400K
Spring Training info:
MLB.com coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Rays manager Joe Maddon said Guzman would play in Tuesday's intrasquad game.

Aybar next: While Guzman reported Tuesday, Aybar is expected to be in camp Wednesday. Maddon sounded intrigued about seeing Aybar, whom the Rays acquired from Atlanta for left-hander Jeff Ridgway. Once considered one of the Dodgers' top prospects, Aybar, 24, hit .313 for the Braves in 36 games in 2006 but missed all of the 2007 season due to an injured right wrist and personal matters. Since the trade took place, Aybar was arrested and jailed in the Dominican Republic on domestic violence charges that were eventually dropped.

"I've heard all about [Aybar], read all the different numbers, and everyone speaks well about his offense, his plate discipline, his hitting abilities," Maddon said. "And I've heard different things about his defense. I want to see that. I've heard he could be a pretty good defender. So I want to see all of that, and imagine what he can play beyond one position."

Maddon said he's still uncertain when Salas will report.

On the links: The Rays golf tournament Monday managed to raise $100,000 for the Rays Baseball Foundation, the charitable arm of the organization.

Rays broadcaster Joe Magrane and coach Tim Bogar were on the winning team that included Dr. Larry Williams, Dr. Joe Boulay and Mike Vandiver.

Chad Orvella won the longest drive contest with a drive of 340 yards, and Maddon won the closest to the pin competition.

Intrasquad action: Tuesday's six-inning intrasquad game saw "Martinez's Muddogs" beat "Foley's Feinsteins," 2-1. The game was scoreless for the first four innings before the Muddogs scored runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Jonny Gomes made two diving catches in right field, robbing hitters of potential base hits.

In addition, Akinori Iwamura went 2-for-2 and played well at second base.

"I liked [the way Iwamura looked at second]," Maddon said. "Him and [shortstop Jason] Bartlett are really moving well."

The Rays will play another intrasquad game Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Raymond A. Naimoli Complex.

Three sign: Shawn Riggans, Andy Sonnanstine and Aybar all have agreed to terms on contracts, leaving Scott Dohmann, B.J. Upton and Jae Kuk Ryu as the only unsigned players in camp.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less