Fontenot opening eyes in bid to make roster

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Rays have a history of bringing in a veteran player to Spring Training who seems off the radar and he ends up contributing before the season is over.

Mike Fontenot is a candidate to be such a player for this year's team. The 32-year-old native of Slidell, La., is a veteran of seven Major League seasons with the Cubs, Giants and Phillies. He signed with the Rays as a Minor League free agent on Nov. 11 after hitting .289 in 47 games with Philadelphia last season.

Fontenot wanted to join the Rays despite the fact that the club's roster looks set unless a rash of injuries take place.

"My main concern when I came over here is, this is a good organization and I wanted to be a part of that," Fontenot said. "I just want to get back playing baseball a little bit. I didn't play the last two months of the season last year. I wanted to get back out there and play a little bit and see what happens."

Fontenot had wrist surgery in September.

"I wanted to be ready for [the 2013 season]," Fontenot said. "[I] just had to get it cleaned up, because it was hurting a little bit, had some calcium deposits. Got that done and everything's been great so far."

Fontenot can play third, short and second, and Monday he found himself in left field against the Red Sox. He noted that the worst thing a player can do is try to play the roster game, or try to figure out what the team is going to do as far as roster moves.

"You can't," Fontenot said. "You just have to get out here and do your thing. A lot of stuff is out of your control. All you can control is your play and the work you put in every day. That's all I'm focusing on right now."

The veteran has been around long enough to know that the status of a team's roster can change in an instant.

"You never know. I thought I was locked in last year in Spring Training with San Francisco and ended up not there," Fontenot said. "I'm just here to have a good time and play baseball."

Manager Joe Maddon clearly is a Fontenot fan.

"Fontenot, he's a nice baseball player, man," Maddon said. "I don't know much about him, because he's been in the other league, but he's really impressive. He's got a really good swing, a really good swing. Technically he's very good. The ball's always on the fat part of the bat when he hits it.

"Defensively he catches the ball cleanly and throws well. He's not tall, but this guy's a really good baseball player. He's a really impressive and I've been watching him very closely. He could be a big part of what we do here. He fits in well. … There's still a chance for him to make the club. I mean that. I've really been impressed with him a lot. Not a little bit. He's good."