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Super-utility man Motter can't stop playing baseball

Eight-position player wants to spend "every waking second" working to get to Majors
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Perhaps the most intriguing story in the Rays camp this spring is Taylor Motter.

Motter plays every position in the field, but he's hardly a gimmick, because he plays all of them well. And he loves baseball more than breathing.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Perhaps the most intriguing story in the Rays camp this spring is Taylor Motter.

Motter plays every position in the field, but he's hardly a gimmick, because he plays all of them well. And he loves baseball more than breathing.

The super utility player is the baseball equivalent of a basketball gym rat.

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"He does not want to get taken out of the lineup," said Jared Sandberg, who managed Motter at Triple-A Durham in 2015.

Motter likes to have his spikes in the dirt every day. That translated to a winter ball stint in the Dominican Republic this past offseason. He played in Venezuela before the 2015 season as well. The extra work in the Dominican came on the heels of a '15 season that saw him hit .292 with 14 home runs and 72 RBIs while stealing 26 bases for the Bulls.

"There's no breaks for me, I don't like the breaks," Motter said. "I only have a certain amount of time to play this game. I want to spend every waking second training or preparing or doing what I have to do to play this game as long as I can. That's what I've wanted since I was a little kid. And that's what I want to do until I can't pick up a glove anymore."

Winter baseball has allowed Motter to witness firsthand how passionate the citizens of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are about baseball.

Video: TB@BAL: Motter makes diving catch at third to rob hit

"I tell everybody here you need to go down there and experience it at least one time, because you'll never see the game of baseball the same," Motter said. "Down there everybody loves the game. Everybody wants to be around the game. The passion for every out of every game is nothing like what you see here."

The Rays have more depth all around the diamond than in recent memory. So how does a utility like Motter fit in?

"If you have a guy like him, maybe you can take one more pitcher, one more catcher on your roster," said former Major Leaguer Skeeter Barnes, who is a Minor League instructor for the organization. "He can play. I've been saying that since Day 1. We've got a guy here that you can literally put in seven positions and not miss a beat with the bat or the feet. He steals bases, too."

A historical thread exists between the Rays and the utility position dating back to Ben Zobrist, who made the utility role an everyday position. Motter is most comfortable playing shortstop, because that's what he had always played growing up. When asked if he eventually wants to be an everyday player, Motter smiled.

"I've been stuck on that question a long time," Motter said. "Do I want to be an everyday guy, or do I want to try and be a utility guy who can do it all? When it comes down to it, it's what's going to get me to the Major Leagues the quickest and what's going to make me stay.

"If that's being able to play eight different positions, then that's it. But if it's just solidifying myself at one position, then that's what I look forward to doing. But right now, I'm just playing the game and seeing what happens and whatever will get me there."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tampa Bay Rays, Taylor Motter