It was supposed to be an ideal situation for Luke Scott to have a rebound year, coming off a season-ending shoulder surgery.
When the DH took a slight paycut to sign a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012, he was just one bad season removed from a .902 OPS, 27-homer season with Baltimore Orioles. The hope was that change of scenery would help Scott get back there, and give the Rays a near-elite lefty DH at a discount rate.
It didn’t happen, as Scott hit under .230 for the second straight season with a disappointing .285 OBP. Though he had never hit lefties particularly well, Scott’s .475 OPS was downright useless against southpaws last season, compared to the .741 he’d put up in his career.
Still, that won’t dissuade the 34-year old, or the Rays for that matter, from trying it again in 2013.
Although, that pay cut will cut a little deeper this time around. The two sides recently agreed to a one-year, $2.75 million contract that will put Scott a little further back against the wall, as he tries to restart a sputtering career without age on his side.
The road back will start with health. Or rather, Scott’s ability to stay in the lineup. The return from shoulder surgery did not go smoothly for the the aging veteran, as back and oblique issues took him to the DL twice and caused him to miss 45 games.
Scott hasn’t had a healthy year since 2010, but that he was a 2.7 fWAR designated hitter than gives the Rays some hope of what they could be getting.
Even in an injury-plagued 2012, Scott still managed to put up a .820 OPS against righties, and showed excellent power with 14 homers and 22 doubles in 344 PA. Another area of concern is that he has whiffed at an increasing rate over the last two seasons, but considering the issue if health and how it cut into his playing time and preparation, I think it might be reasonable to just lump the pair of lost seasons together for another mulligan.
The Rays are prepared to give him that. Barring an injury in Spring Training, Scott will open the season as the team’s primary DH, though I’d imagine they’ll platoon him against lefties. If he can stay healthy all season, the upside be brings will be considerable for the Rays as they try to get back to the playoffs.
If not? Well, you know what they say about being fooled twice…