Jamal has been a writer for Bleacher Report since 2010 focused strictly on the Rays. He has had his work featured on websites such as Forbes, USA Today, CBS Sports, Houston Chronicle and the LA Times. Jamal is a special correspondent for 620wdae.com covering the Tampa Bay Rays.
Wilson Betemit has finally reported to camp for the Tampa Bay Rays after dealing with visa issues in the Dominican Republic.
Betemit, 32, now has the challenge of getting caught up with the other players in camp with the hopes of securing a roster spot on the bench.
The good news for Betemit is the Rays have large potential need that he can fill better than other options already in camp.
He can be a switch-hitter off the bench.
Among the most probable to make the Rays Opening Day roster on the bench are right-handed hitters Jose Molina, Logan Forsythe, Brandon Guyer and Sean Rodriguez. Even non-roster invitee Jayson Nix would be another right-handed hitter available for the team.
This would leave the Rays without a left-handed batter available off the bench assuming left-handed hitters James Loney, David DeJesus, Matt Joyce and switch-hitter Ben Zobrist are all in the starting lineup.
Betemit is a career .279/.347/.472 hitter against right-handed pitchers as a left-handed batter (1,766 of his 2,335 career plate appearances) including 61 of his 75 career home runs.
Another benefit that he provides is the ability to play every infield position as well as the corner outfield positions.
The Rays have some left-handed hitters in camp including shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, infielder Vince Belnome and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier but they lack the major league experience and the versatility to play as many positions as Betemit.
Kiermaier has the best chance of the three to make the Opening Day roster as an outfield defensive replacement and pinch runner, similar to the role Sam Fuld played. He would likely have to edge out Gomes to be the fifth outfielder on the roster.
The largest obstacle working against Betemit is the time he has missed in camp.
He told Marc Topkin from the Tampa Bay Times he is aware that he needs to perform immediately to make up for the delay.
"I know I have to come in here and do my job, and because I missed like two weeks, I have to do it right away. It's not my fault, but right now I have to."
Betemit’s arrival leaves pitcher Juan Carlos Oviedo as the only player left to report, of the 64 invited to camp, while he is still dealing with visa issues in the Dominican Republic.