Mahtook Keeps Game In Perspective For Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—When the Rays made Mikie Mahtook their second first-round pick last June, the club talked openly of the Louisiana State star moving quickly through the system.
The Rays seemed intent on giving Mahtook that opportunity, sending him to the Arizona Fall League and then starting his first full season with high Class A Charlotte. Less of a surprise is that Mahtook seems intent on taking advantage of it, getting off to a hot start for the Stone Crabs, going 5-for-13 in his first four games.
The Rays expect a lot given Mahtook's performance at LSU, where he earned All-America status by hitting .344, running the bases aggressively and covering vast amounts of ground in the outfield.
"We value guys who do everything—and he does everything," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.
Mahtook will always have a connection to LSU, as he plays in memory of his father Michael, a former LSU football player who died of heart disease when Mahtook was 4. Mahtook writes his number, 54, on his cleats.
"I think about him every day," Mahtook said. "That number is our family lucky number. It's on me at all times. I feel like whenever I need him, he's there for me."
Doing so helps in many ways.
"It puts things in perspective for you," Mahtook said. "Some people almost have the wrong idea about baseball. They put so much pressure on themselves to live and die by every game, every pitch. To me, it's just a game.
"Hey, baseball is baseball, but when you're off of baseball, you have this other life and you can't take anything for granted."
• Outfielder Josh Sale, the Rays' top pick in 2010, didn't make a full-season club and was assigned to extended spring training for the second year. He did get to play at Tropicana Field in the Rays versus Future Rays exhibition on April 4.
• Outfielder John Shelby III, who hit .248 in 117 games for Double-A Montgomery last season after being acquired from the White Sox, was released at the end of spring training.