Shaffer Ready To Go For Rays




ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.—Richie Shaffer was at Tropicana Field for the first time about six years ago, sitting in the stands after a side trip from a high school tournament in Jupiter, Fla.

He was there again on July 13, standing in front of the Rays dugout, talking about signing for $1.71 million as Tampa Bay's top pick in the draft and starting his pro career.

"I'm really excited about being here," Shaffer said. "I get a little antsy watching batting practice and not being about to swing. I'm excited. This is incredible. I can't wait to get going."

The Rays sent Shaffer to short-season Hudson Valley. The power-hitting third baseman from Clemson is projected to move quickly through the Rays system, though he knows his return to the Trop as a major leaguer is going to be a ways off.

"I'd like it to be as quick as possible, but it's not my decision to make," he said. "All I can control is going out and playing and off the field working hard."

Shaffer has enough experience with wood bats that he feels the biggest transition will be the schedule, both the physical and mental demands.

"Just the difference of the every day grind, getting used to playing every day, and the mental ups and downs," he said. "Obviously the talent gets better every time you move up a rung in the organization, but it's still the game. The difference is the mental side, handling adversity and handling the grind."

COOL RAYS

• Righthander Chris Archer returned to action for Triple-A Durham on July 22 after missing two weeks due to a mild oblique strain. Archer, the team's most advanced pitching prospect, impressed during a two-start appearance in the majors and factors heavily into the team's future plans.

• Lefthander Cesar Ramos has been pitching well at Durham. The 28-year-old showed as much when he got summoned to the majors to help out their shorthanded bullpen. He worked four innings against the Mariners on July 21 and struck out six.