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Riggans healthy and ready to fight for last, best chance

Shawn Riggans feels good about the upcoming season.

By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Published February 12, 2008


ST. PETERSBURG - Shawn Riggans feels good about the upcoming season.

More important, he just feels good.

Coming into spring training as the apparent leading candidate for the backup catcher's job, Riggans is coming off surgery to repair a right elbow problem that essentially wiped out his 2007 season.

"I'm as close to 100 percent as I can be," Riggans said Monday after a pre-spring workout. "I have to be field-tested, get out there and do a little bit more like maybe in an intrasquad game or something, but I think that's all mental now. My arm's ready to go. It can handle the workload. Now it's just a matter of getting out there and doing it."

Actually, that describes more than just Riggans' elbow, from which a bone chip was removed.

At 27 and long considered a prospect, he has his best shot to win a big-league job, competing with nonroster veterans Mike Difelice and Josh Paul, but potentially his last chance, especially with prospect John Jaso added to the 40-man roster.

"This is it," Riggans said. "I need to help the team. I feel like I can help the team. I know pretty much every pitcher that we have in this room. I've played with them since almost day one. I feel that I have something I can help the team out with. ...

"It's right there in front of me. I have to take advantage of it. Nothing in this world is ever given to you. I need to prove that I can handle the job. I think if I do that, good things will happen. All my game's pretty much based on, 'Go out and play hard and let everything take its toll.' So we'll see what happens."

LUNCHEON MOVED: If only there were a saillike roof covering Al Lang Field ...

Due to the threat of rain, the Rays have moved today's spring training kickoff luncheon from outdoors at the waterfront stadium where they'd like to build a permanent home with the sail to indoors at their present home, Tropicana Field.

Ironic?

"That's the beauty of a retractable roof," Rays president Matt Silverman said. "While weather will always be unpredictable, the game or event would not be in doubt."

E.J., IN THE HOUSE: Right-hander Edwin Jackson joined the large group of players working out at the Naimoli complex before Friday's camp opening.

Rays on deck

First workout for pitchers and catchers: Friday

First full-squad workout: Feb. 20

Site: Naimoli complex,7901 30th Ave. N, St. Petersburg

Times: 9:30 a.m. to noon

Admission, parking: Free

Autograph chances: Good, usually after the workouts.