Shortstop Yunel Escobar will attempt to put a tumultuous 2012 season behind him as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. While with the Toronto Blue Jays,Escobar garnered a plethora of negative publicity near the end of the 2012 season for some choice Spanish words he wrote on his eye black before a game.
The Blue Jays suspended Escobar, which was the foreshadowing for a future deal that shipped Escobar to the Miami Marlins. The Marlins in turn then traded Escobar back to the American League East to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor leaguer Derek Dietrich.
Escobar will look to hold down the middle infield for the Rays in an attempt to rejuvenate his career in Tampa. Escobar will be joined by his former double play partner in Toronto, Kelly Johnson, who signed a one year deal with the Rays in the off-season.
Escobar will look to rebound in 2013 and produce similar numbers to that of 2011 where he hit .290 with a .782 OPS and 11 home runs with the Blue Jays. He ranked second in range factor among American League shortstops with a 4.84 factor and fourth in runs saved with 15 last season.
There is no question Escobar has the talent to be a quality major league shortstop, it is his motivation and focus that always seems to come into question. He will be motivated to prove his doubters wrong and assert himself again as one of the league’s top shortstops in 2013. Rays manager Joe Maddon and company are hoping the same.
Clayton Richer covers the Toronto Blue Jays for Rant Sports. Follow and interact with him on Twitter at @MLBHotCorner.