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Right-handers aiming for measure of success

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Dotting the Rays' roster this spring are a number of vertically challenged hurlers.

Steve Geltz, Brandon Gomes, Joel Peralta, and Kirby Yates are all under 6-feet and all are right-handed, an odd fact based on the composition of most Major League rosters.

"It's a bias," manager Joe Maddon said about the prevailing mentality about short right-handers. "It's an old scouting axiom that is primarily based on a lack of durability and the fact that they think right-handed hitters who see him too often are going to get him because he's not tall enough to create an angle."

Gomes noted that Braves standout reliever Craig Kimbrel is also listed at 5-foot-11 and is right-handed

"I'm actually taller than Kimbrel," Gomes said. "And he's one of the best, if not the best, ever."

Nevertheless, being under 6-feet and right-handed would seem to be a challenge given the landscape of the thinking in today's game.

"I don't think it's a disadvantage," Gomes said. "It's just I feel like some teams won't give you a look just because you might be under 6-foot or whatever their prototypical pitcher is, you might not fit that mold, so you are eliminated by a few teams. But as far as a disadvantage, I don't feel that."

Left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser is generously listed at 6-feet, so he's noticed the lack of height by some of his fellow pitchers.

"I definitely see that we have shorter guys than most other teams," Riefenhauser said. "Some of the guys I work out with during the offseason are monsters, 6-2, 6-5, and they ask, 'Hey, you're probably the shortest guy in the clubhouse.' I'm like, 'You'd be surprised. I'm not the shortest guy, and definitely not the tallest.'

"I don't know why. I think a lot of teams want to draft a bigger guy, his arm angle is going to be kind of high. But I mean look at Kirby, look at Geltz, they've had a ton of success."

Gomes smiled when noting the bottom line: "Ultimately, if you're getting guys out, somebody's going to notice. That's the beauty of baseball. If you're 5-5 or 6-10, you have to put up numbers to be successful. It doesn't matter what you look like."

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

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