Vogt putting himself right in mix for roster spot

Vogt putting himself right in mix for roster spot

Vogt putting himself right in mix for roster spot
TAMPA, Fla. -- Stephen Vogt had a busy day at the plate Wednesday, going 3-for-3 with a standup triple off Hiroki Kuroda, two RBIs and a run scored.

Vogt kept himself occupied the rest of the afternoon as well, switching from designated hitter to catcher. He even caught in the bullpen between innings, joking that he hasn't yet earned the right to leave early, nor would he want to.

But perhaps most importantly, Vogt continued to move further into the mix for the Rays' backup catching job, a position battle that now appears to be a four-man race.

Robinson Chirinos and Jose Lobaton were the incumbents, Chris Gimenez worked his way into the conversation, and Rays manager Joe Maddon said Vogt is "definitely within the group" as well.

"I try to keep that in the back of my mind, that I'm always trying to fight for playing time, so to speak," Vogt said. "At the same time, I'm a competitor. It doesn't matter if I'm playing on the back fields in Minor League camp or here at Steinbrenner Field against the Yankees. I want to do well. It is in the back of my mind, and I'd love to earn a spot, but at the same time, I play the game the same way no matter where I am [each] day.

"All that was said is that I'm in the mix. That was it," he added. "I don't know if that means second catcher, fifth outfielder, 17th I-don't-know. That's fine. Just getting [to the Majors] is what matters. Whatever avenue or route that takes me is what I want."

Vogt, 27, has hit well throughout his Minor League career, enough to be named the Rays' Minor League Player of the Year in 2011 after splitting time between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. He hit a combined .298 with 17 homers, an .829 OPS and 105 RBIs in 128 games.

Vogt played more games at catcher than any other position, though he's also capable of playing first base and both corner-outfield spots, and said he's been told the Rays want to see him catch more. He added yoga to his workout routine to increase his flexibility, hoping it will translate to better defense behind the plate -- the most important attribute for whoever becomes the Rays' backup catcher.

"It all fits, but we've got to be comfortable defensively, also. We rely on pitching and defense," Maddon said. "I'm not going to subtract his offense, but we have to rely on the fact that if Vogt was going to be the guy, we'd have to feel good about his defense, too."