Brignac Moving In Reverse For Rays





ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—The Rays thought going into the 2011 season that Reid Brignac was ready to take over as their everyday shortstop.
They're still waiting.

Brignac, the club's fourth-round selection in 2004, was optioned back to Triple-A Durham two weeks into this season as it became clear Sean Rodriguez would be playing regularly. The decision was based on Brignac's lack of offense, which is the same reason he lost the job last year following the trade of Jason Bartlett. He ended up back in Durham by the end of July.

"We need to get him some at-bats, some steady at-bats. He has a ways to go to fulfill his offensive potential," manager Joe Maddon said. "I still consider him one of the best defensive shortstops in the league. He'll play a good defensive game just like that. With the game on the line, you want the ball hit to him all the time, not just once in a while. He is that guy. We just have to get him better offensively."

After an encouraging spring training when the Rays stressed to Brignac, 26, the importance of being a more complete hitter, cutting down on his swing and becoming more selective, he started 2-for-17 and fell back into the habit of hitting the ball in the air too often.

Brignac was mentally drained after last season's disappointment—a .193/.227/.221 line over 92 games. He started only five of the first 15 games before his demotion and did not take the news of his demotion well, which Maddon said was understandable.

"I didn't expect him to," Maddon said. "To be in a situation like that, to go back and forth, it's not easy . . . Any frustration he might have had, I understand it."

COOL RAYS

• Outfielder/DH Hideki Matsui signed a minor league deal and was expected to join Durham in early May. The 37-year-old would provide depth in case of an injury to Luke Scott.

• Tampa bay signed righthander Lance Pendleton, a former Rice teammate and roommate of righthander Jeff Niemann, and sent him to Durham.