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Lucius Fox Expands His Versatility



After a disappointing 2019 season, Lucius Fox’s career seemed to be at a crossroads.

But then the Rays provided some direction for the 22-year-old shortstop.

Acquired as the prime prospect from the Giants in the 2016 trade of Matt Moore, Fox spent most of last season struggling at Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.

Overall the switch-hitter batted .221/.331/.327 with three home runs and 39 stolen bases in 119 games. The Rays added Fox to their 40-man roster anyway.

"The Rays showed that they believed in me, and I won’t let them down,’’ Fox said. "I’m ready for this upcoming season, wherever I start. But the ultimate goal is to help the big league ballclub win games.’’

Then the Rays gave Fox another way to do just that, telling him to prepare to spend time in center field this spring in an effort to expand his versatility.

And then after only one day of drill work, Fox found himself making his first ever appearance in the outfield on Feb. 24. He was struck by how much space there was to cover and how far away from the action he felt.

But he liked it, and in subsequent appearances, he looked increasingly comfortable running down fly balls and showing off his strong arm.

"I know I’m really athletic and I’m up for the challenge,’’ said Fox, who signed out of the Bahamas in 2015. "(Outfield coach) Ozzie Timmons has helped me with my footwork and I’ve been watching (Kevin Kiermaier) and (Manuel) Margot a lot . . .

"If I continue to play out there, I feel like I’m athletic enough that I can win a Gold Glove one day.’’

After 2019, Fox's goal for this season is to play well no matter where he is.

"I feel like last year was like a weird year,’’ he said. "I learned a lot. A lot of things didn’t go my way, but it made me better as a person. It made me stronger mentally . . .

"I went into this offseason with things I needed to work on and I’m ready for this this year and to make sure that won’t happen again.’’

COOL RAYS

Kevin Padlo’s excitement over being added to the 40-man roster in November was dimmed by a health scare that kept him sidelined for the first two and a half weeks of camp. He was finally diagnosed with daily headaches for which he is taking medication.

— Among the young pitchers making an impression early in camp were former University of South Florida teammates Shane McClanahan and Phoenix Sanders.

Shane Mcclanahan Julio Aguilar Getty Images

Baseball America Spring Training Prospect Report -- March 12, 2020

McClanahan hit 100 mph with his fastball, Grisham continued his hot hitting, Patiño shined in relief and more.

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