Rays' Mahtook Ready For Grind





ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Outfielder Mikie Mahtook felt pretty good about most of his first pro season, which he opened at high Class A Charlotte and finished at Double-A Montgomery with a solid .277/.342 /.415 slash line.

But he felt pretty tired at the end.

"I feel like I did pretty well," said Mahtook, one of the Rays' three 2011 first-round picks. "Being the competitor that I am, I feel like I didn't really reach my expectations on what I wanted to do. But I don't think anybody can really factor in the length of the season and how long it is.

"You tell yourself and you can prepare all you want, but (it's different) until you actually go through it. I feel like I did a pretty good job managing it until about the last 20 games, and then I started really feeling it, more mentally then physically.

"Now I know what to expect going into spring training, I know what to expect how long a season is, I know how it is playing in the south, all that stuff. So I think, obviously, in my mind everything is going to improve just by having a year of experience.''

This winter, which included an appearance at the Rays' January development camp, Mahtook has been focusing on improving his defense, first-step quickness and plate discipline. Mahtook will likely open the 2013 season back at Montgomery. "Wherever they start me, I want to be at the next level by the end of the year,'' he said.

COOL RAYS

• Outfielder Shelley Duncan and righthanders Jamey Wright, Juan Sandoval and Juan Carlos Oviedo, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, were signed to minor league contracts and invited to major league spring training.

• The Rays kept most of the names the same with their minor league managers but changed some of the addresses, moving Brady Williams from low Class A Bowling Green to Charlotte, Jared Sandberg from short-season Hudson Valley to Bowling Green, and Michael Johns from Rookie-league Princeton to Hudson Valley. Jim Morrison went from Charlotte to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.