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Alex Cobb throws batting practice, Nick Franklin exudes confidence

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Over the weekend, Kevin Cash delivered his big inaugural address to the Tampa Bay Rays, and we featured some video from Cash discussing how the big moment went for him and the team yesterday. Here's Alex Cobb's thoughts on what impression the team got from Cash:

Longoria followed suit by describing the message from Cash to be the mantra "work hard every day" -- and how he felt the team was very receptive to Cash's viewpoint.

In the video above, Longo also jokes that Don Zimmer wouldn't have approved of the attention he's getting from the team honoring him, and then discusses what it was like to take live batting practice from Alex Cobb.

"I squared up one ball, I think."

Spring Training brings so many interesting match ups we don't normally get to see until the Rays trade their best pitcher's away. It's fun to hear the best hitter on the team discuss the stuggles of facing the best pitcher on the team, and even more fun to watch!

Alright so the video isn't perfect, but in the middle there you can catch Longo giving one a ride, and a nod of respect from Cobber.

That was over the weekend, but now Cobb and krewe are back to throwing to hitters without them swinging, allowing the offense to track pitches. Cobb seemed pretty frustrated by it, but Cash notes its importance to get this last round of dead BP:

Topkin Notes

Nick Franklin is quite confident that he will be the Rays' short stop by Opening Day, which would be a best-case scenario for the Rays, allowing Asdrubal Cabrera to transition into a full time second base role:

"Absolutely," Franklin said. "Absolutely. One hundred percent. I've grown up playing shortstop. Even at the big-league level, playing short just seems natural to me. I enjoy it. I'm really comfortable there. ... It's been in my blood for a long time."

[...]

Though most of Franklin's big-league opportunity with the Mariners and Rays has been at second base, he is rather, um, confident he has the ability to handle the everyday shortstop job.

"I wouldn't say I need any work," Franklin said. "Honestly, I think over these past years I've improved a significant amount at shortstop. ... I've been practicing all offseason at short. And there's really no weakness."

Topkin seems taken aback by Franklin's confidence, but the kid needs to go out there and prove himself. With the pipeline of infield prospects bursting at the seems, it's do or die for Franklin.

"I like taking leadership on the field," he said. "Shortstop is a very, very big asset to the team. ... I like the responsibility. I think it dials me in a little more. At second you only have so much to do. There's obviously a 20-foot throw to first, and that's about it."

Also noted in the piece is that Franklin has been working with a track coach -- to increase his range, which was already one of his strengths, and improve his footwork -- and with Hall of Famer Barry Larkin in Orlando for the second off-season in a row.

Should Franklin win the job, it's likely he would still be platooned with the likes of Logan Forsythe and/or Tim Beckham against left handed pitching. Franklin switch hits, which has it's late game advantages, but isn't at a place where he can mash southpaws like he can righties.

- The Rays are installing their countdown clocks for Spring Training's pace of play improvements:

Under the new rules, which go into effect with Thursday's exhibition opener, the clock will be set at 2:25, with the batter introduced with 40 seconds left and the pitcher throwing his last warm-up pitch by :30.

Links

- ICYMI, Alex Cobb is on track to be the Opening Day starter, and to get there he began facing live batting practice for the first time

- Steve Kinsella has quotes from Nate Karns on improving his change up and working toward winning the fifth starter slot. Karns is slated for the Spring Opener.

- Roger Mooney has quotes from Rene Rivera on his drive to catch at a major league level.

- Hardball Times: Baseball journalism often misses the important issues, says Jack Moore.

- Today is the paperback release of Jonah Keri's Expos expose Up, Up, and Away.

- Tim Beckham launched one, and it landed, on Drew Smyly's BMW. Oops.

Hatfield, how much does that cost?

- Finally, a piece of the catching depth the Rays have a lot of confidence in is Luke Maile, who finished the season with Durham in the playoffs. Maile discusses the benefit of being promoted to big league camp early last Spring, and the importance of Yoga for catchers.