Diaz hit .345 (10-for-29) with a triple, two RBI, two walks and one run across 11 Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended. The 28-year-old was one of the Rays' hottest hitters during the abbreviated exhibition slate, further solidifying his spot as a lineup fixture. Diaz slashed a solid .267/.340/.476 across a career-high 347 plate appearances in 2019, a line that was partly comprised of a career-high 14 home runs. Diaz projects to frequently slot into the coveted leadoff role when the Rays face a left-hander in the coming season while also logging plenty of time against right-handed pitching.
Diaz is expected to open the season as the Rays' primary leadoff option against left-handed pitching, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Diaz only hit at the top of the order in one of his 11 Grapefruit League starts, but the Rays are apparently inclined to deploy him in the short side of a leadoff platoon with the lefty-hitting Austin Meadows. Considering Diaz slotted anywhere between second and fourth in his other 10 spring starts, he looks set to occupy a prominent lineup spot against righties in most games as well, though he'll be a candidate to sit on days when manager Kevin Cash wants to clear room at a corner-infield spot for Joey Wendle or Yoshi Tsutsugo.
Diaz has appeared in 10 Grapefruit League games to date, going 8-for-26 at the plate with two RBI and a 2:6 BB:K. Diaz's best game of the spring came in his most recent appearance Monday, when he went 2-for-2 with a triple in a 2-2 tie with the Pirates. He served as the cleanup hitter against Pittsburgh righty Mitch Keller in a lineup consisting primarily of everyday players, so Diaz looks like he might have the opportunity to occupy a spot in the heart of the order once the regular season arrives.
Diaz (foot) is not in the starting lineup for Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Astros on Thursday. Diaz remains sidelined Thursday after exiting Game 3 with a foot injury. Joey Wendle will start at third base, batting seventh.
Diaz (foot) is not in the starting lineup for Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Astros on Tuesday. Diaz exited Game 3 of the ALDS on Monday with a sore foot and will be held out of the starting lineup Tuesday, although he remains on the team's active roster. Joey Wendle will start at third base, batting seventh.