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Competition for Rays' catcher jobs heats up

Three players -- Sucre, Casali, Maile -- vying for two spots
MLB.com @wwchastain

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Rays have a catching competition going on this spring. Three catchers are battling for two jobs. The candidates are: Jesus Sucre, Curt Casali and Luke Maile.

"And that's a good thing," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They all do unique things and have a lot of positives. Sucre is probably more the unknown coming in, and he's becoming known pretty quickly. The pitchers have enjoyed throwing to him. We get to see how the bat plays a little bit. I really like the way he's handling the pitchers, the way he's receiving. We knew he has a cannon for an arm. We got to see that [already]."

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Rays have a catching competition going on this spring. Three catchers are battling for two jobs. The candidates are: Jesus Sucre, Curt Casali and Luke Maile.

"And that's a good thing," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They all do unique things and have a lot of positives. Sucre is probably more the unknown coming in, and he's becoming known pretty quickly. The pitchers have enjoyed throwing to him. We get to see how the bat plays a little bit. I really like the way he's handling the pitchers, the way he's receiving. We knew he has a cannon for an arm. We got to see that [already]."

Wilson Ramos, who is recovering from knee surgery, won't be back until later in the season, which means the Rays would have four catchers they control at that point.

Heading into the offseason, Maile and Casali appeared to be the team's catching hopefuls, but the Rays weren't willing to stand pat, opting to create competition instead.

Video: MIN@TB: Casali hits a two-run homer in the 2nd

"It is what it is," Casali said. "At this point I've gotten used to it. I'd say myself, I haven't established myself as a guy who's earned a role yet, and I'm fighting for a job.

"Competition always brings the best out in me, and hopefully it brings out the best in the other guys and we have a good camp."

Maile said a player can't take such club decisions personally.

"From what I've seen in baseball, if you get your feelings hurt easily, you're not going to be around for too long," Maile said.

Video: BOS@TB: Maile smacks an RBI single to left field

Maile allowed that he enjoys competing.

"I don't think anybody wants to be in this game and have anything handed to them," Maile said. "It's fun to compete against guys and have that kind of friendly competition and relationships with the guys who play the same position."

The goal for any player is to make the decision for the club.

"Exactly," Maile said. "You play your way into the lineup."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Curt Casali, Luke Maile, Jesus Sucre