ST. PETERSBURG -- Kelly Shoppach will see reduced playing time during the final month of the season as the Rays want to get a good look at Jose Lobaton at catcher.
"You're primarily going to see Lobaton and [John] Jaso," Joe Maddon said. "And I've already talked to Shop about that, so he's aware about that."
The Rays manager added that Shoppach took the news "really good, he understood."
"It's nothing that he did wrong," Maddon said. "It's just to give Lobaton an opportunity right now. [Lobaton] getting hurt like he did really put us behind the eight ball as far as seeing him. Going into this month, I talked to Shop and he was really good."
Shoppach did not want to offer a comment to reporters.
Shoppach is in his second year with the team and makes $3 million. The Rays hold a $3.2 million club option for Shoppach's services in 2012. Maddon was asked if the use of Lobaton should be perceived as an indication of the club's future plans for Shoppach.
"All you should really draw from it is we want to see more of Lobaton right now more than anything," Maddon said. "We need to evaluate him. We know what we have with Shop pretty much. This thing, who knows, could still change. I'm talking right now, what the plan is to use those two guys more. But as the month is in progress, that door's open to change. But for right now it's more about us seeing Lobaton. And knowing what Shop can do."
Lobaton hit .293 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 54 games for Triple-A Durham this season, which earned him a promotion to the Rays on July 14. Unfortunately for Lobaton, he suffered a left knee sprain four days later and missed 43 games during a stint on the disabled list. He is hitting .091 in five games for the Rays. Maddon said Lobaton could figure prominently in next year's plans.
Shoppach, who is hitting .175 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs, has had a nice season behind the plate, throwing out 14 of 35 attempted basestealers. Many of the team's pitchers have expressed that they like pitching to him, too. Nevertheless, Maddon said the plan is for Shoppach's duties to be reduced for now.
"Mostly coming off the bench, the game in progress, if we want to do some things, primarily that way right now," Maddon said.