Tagged: Spring Training

Rays Finish Spring With 3-3 Tie, Luke Scott Headed to DL

The Rays capped off spring training in Tropicana Field Saturday afternoon, tying the Tigers 3-3.

Matt Moore, who has struggled throughout the spring, had a much improved start in this game. He pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, one walk and struck out five.

All of Tampa’s offense came from three solo home runs off the bats of Ryan Roberts, James Loney and Sean Rodriguez.

Five of the Rays’ seven relievers made appearances Saturday, each of them tossing one inning each. Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney all had scoreless outings. Jamey Wright allowed two runs on two hits and Jake McGee gave up a run on two hits.

The Rays finish Grapefruit League play with a 15-17-2 record. Their next game is Opening Day at the Trop versus the Baltimore Orioles, David Price will make the first pitch of the season at 3:10 ET.

Here’s a full boxscore of Saturday’s exhibition.

Rays News and Notes:

  • Luke Scott has been placed on the DL, and is out for a minimum of 2-3 weeks with a strained right calf. The Rays will announce his replacement today, with Brandon Guyer possibly the favorite for the job.
  • Buster Posey and Justin Verlander both inked huge contracts Saturday. Verlander’s record deal just reaffirms that the Rays won’t be able to afford David Price long term, Buster Olney tweets.
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Roberto Hernandez Wins Rotation Battle

The decision for the fifth starter in the Rays’ rotation is finally in. Roberto Hernandez will join Tampa Bay’s starting five and Jeff Niemann will start the season in the bullpen.

Jeff Niemann—who competed well and made this a very tough decision for Joe Maddon—had the better spring. He posted a 2.92 ERA with 17 strikeouts and four walks over 24.2 innings in Grapefruit League play, while Hernandez posted a 5.33 ERA with 14 strikeouts and six walks over 27 innings.

Despite performing better, Niemann lost this job due to lack of velocity during spring training. He didn’t even reach 90 MPH on his fastball once, which obviously concerned the Rays considering his average fastball velocity lifetime is 91.3 MPH.

Another reason why Hernandez got the edge over Niemann is because Maddon, at the moment, believes that the 32-year-old veteran can provide more innings. Getting deep into games is maybe the biggest thing Maddon was looking for out of these two.

Another advantage in Hernandez’s favor is the fact that he does well enticing groundballs, something that he’s had success in throughout his entire career.

Niemann, who will serve as the Rays’ long reliever, has not not been a successful relief pitcher in the past. However, his steady increase in groundballs over the last years could be a positive sign.

Remember, Niemann had a shoulder injury at the end of last season, so he’s not in the same form as he was in the beginning of last year.

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The Rays also announced the order of their rotation this morning:

Hernandez will actually slot in the third spot in the rotation, due to the way things line up from spring training, giving everyone the full-time rest they need.

At the end of the day, this decision is really just a makeshift roster move by the Rays, as prospect Chris Archer will soon be called up to take over the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Unti then, it will be interesting to see if Hernandez will become the next verteran arm to turn his career around with the Rays.

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Here’s Maddon on his choice:

Niemann Sharp as Rays Fall to Jays 6-1, 5th Starter Decision to Come Later in Week

The Rays lost Wednesday by a score of 6-1 in Port Charlotte, but the main headline of the day was Jeff Niemann, who was excellent in his final Grapefruit League start.

The Tall Texan tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while walking none and striking out two.

The battle for the fifth spot in the rotation between Niemann and Roberto Hernandez is a very close one, and Joe Maddon’s decision may not come until Friday.

I think the right choice is to put Niemann in the rotation and Hernandez in the ‘pen, and I say that for a couple of reasons. Niemann has had the better spring statistically (2.92 ERA vs. 5.33 ERA) and Hernandez is better suited for the ‘pen, being a good groundball pitcher. Niemann has also proven that he’s a very effective starter when healthy, while Hernandez has been flat-out awful since 2008.

What do you guys think? :

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Back to the ballgame, not much news other than Niemann’s outing.

Both Fernando Rodney—making his first appearance since the World Baseball Classic—and Jake McGee had themselves a scoreless inning each.

The only Rays run was scored off a Yunel Escobar RBI triple, which was one of Escobar’s two hits of the day (finished game 2-2). Ryan Roberts also had had two hits, including a double (finished game 2-4).

Evan Longoria walked twice in three plate appearances, flying out in his only at bat.

Here’s for a full boxscore.

Rays Pummeled 10-1 by Phillies, Opening Day Roster Set

The Rays evened their Grapefruit League record to 15-15 Tuesday, losing to Philadelphia in Clearwater.

Roberto Hernandez, who was making his final start in the tight battle for the fifth spot in the starting rotation with Jeff Niemann, had a rough outing. Hernandez started the day with four great innings to start off, but then collapsed in both the fifth and sixth innings.

He was scoreless in those first four innings, and was doing a very nice job enticing groundballs. He gave up nine runs in his final two innings, finishing the day this ugly line: 6 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, BB, 0 K.

Tuesday’s lineup, which featured just two Opening Day players, was very quiet throughout the ballgame. The offense compiled just three hits, the only run coming from Sean Rodriguez’s RBI double in the third inning.

Click here for a full boxscore.

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The Rays pretty much set their Opening Day roster Tuesday. They optioned down Brandon Gomes, leaving the final two bullpen spots to Jamey Wright and Niemann/Hernandez.

Here’s a look at the 25-man roster to start the regular season and roster moves from yesterday over at TampaBay.com.

Rays News and Notes:

  • The battle for the fifth spot in the rotation will be coming to a conclusion either today or tomorrow, as Jeff Niemann makes his final start of the spring this afternoon against the Blue Jays in Port Charlotte.
  • The Rays beat the Pirates 6-2 Monday. Matt Moore had another shaky start in that one.
  • Luke Scott could be sidelined a few days with a tightness in his right calf. It’s nice to hear that it’s not the same left hamstring issue that’s been bothering him, but it’s also upsetting to see that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy with the Rays yet for an extended period of time. As of now it looks like missing Opening Day isn’t a concern.
  • Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer will throw out the first pitch for Opening Day.
  • David Price is seen on the cover of one of six Sports Illustrated regional baseball preview issues. The issue features the Rays, and SI writers seem to really like them this year in their pre-season predictions.

Rays Fall in Extras 7-6, Yankees to Acquire Vernon Wells

The Rays lost their fifth straight Grapefruit Game Sunday afternoon in Tampa, falling to the Yankees 7-6 in 10 innings.

Jeremy Hellickson worked seven innings (95 pitches), allowing 4 runs on 8 hits while walking two and striking out just one batter. Although he was knocked around a bit, it was nice to see some good efficiency in this outing and him being able to get through seven innings.

It hasn’t been a good spring for Helly, who currently owns a 5.03 ERA in 19.2 IP, but it shouldn’t be too much of a concern, especially considering what an awful spring he had in 2012 (9.00 ERA in 20 IP).

Reliever Jamey Wright followed Hellickson with two innings. Wright gave up two runs—a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis (his second of the day)—and also walked two.

The best performances at the plate came from Desmond Jennings (2-4, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), Ben Zobrist (4-5, RBI) and Matt Joyce (2-4, RBI and SB).

Low-level minor league prospects Drew Vettleson and Jake Hager both made their Grapefruit League debuts in this game. Vettleson went 0-2, but Hager hit a game-tying RBI double in his only at bat, down to his last strike with two outs in the ninth.

Right-hander Josh Lueke came on for the Rays in the bottom of the tenth. The first batter he faced was Ronnier Mustelier, who belted a walk-off dinger to left field.

Here’s a full boxscore of Sunday’s game.

Rays News and Notes:

  • The deadline for the Rays to decide whether or not to keep Jamey Wright on the 25-man roster or not is Tuesday. It looks like Joe Maddon will keep him, and Wright will be in the Tampa’s bullpen for Opening Day. The 38-year-old right-hander says he just needs a bit more time to get his sinker down. The sinkerball, of course, is the groundball specialist’s bread and butter.
  • Sam Fuld (hamstring tightness) went 2-6 in a minor-league spring training game Sunday. Fuld said he felt “100 percent” and is ready to return. He should be rejoining the Rays in the Grapefruit League within the next few days.
  • Also down in minor league camp, Wil Myers has been sidelined for a few days with a minor right wrist injury, said to be just soreness. Tim Beckham has also been experiencing wrist soreness, and is scheduled to return soon.
  • The Yankees, who have a decent-sized portion of their team on the DL, are reportedly on the verge of acquiring Vernon Wells in a trade from the Los Angeles Angels.

Rays Drop Fourth Straight, Five Reassigned and Cust Released

The Rays fell to the Minnesota Twins 6-4 Saturday afternoon, marking their fourth straight Grapefruit League loss.

David Price was on the mound for Tampa Bay, and had rather shaky outing. He escaped multiple jams, ending the day with 2 earned runs allowed on 9 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts over 5 innings (89 pitches). Price spoke about his start after the game, frustrated with his efficiency.

The two biggest offensive performances of the day came from Yunel Escobar (2-3, RBI) and Jose Lobaton (3-3, HR), who continues to be the favorite for the backup catcher job Opening Day

James Loney hit a run-scoring double and Evan Longoria also had a two-bagger. In the field, Longoria committed his first error of the spring, which cost the Rays a run in this ballgame.

Relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Cesar Ramos both made appearances Saturday out of the ‘pen. It wasn’t a good day at all for Farnsworth, who allowed a run in just 1/3 innings and had to be removed from the game after bruising his right middle finger while reaching for a groundball.

Ramos was perfect in his 2/3 inning pitched, striking out one.

Here’s a full boxscore of Saturday’s game.

Rays News and Notes:

  • The Rays reassigned INF Cole Figueroa, INF Leslie Anderson, OF Rich Thompson, RHP Kirby Yates and RHP Dane De La Rosa to minor league camp Saturday in their latest round of cuts.
  • The Rays also released Jack Cust, who was signed just a little over a month ago.
  • Joe Maddon said he’ll make the fifth starter decision by the middle of next week. Jeff Niemann struggled in his last outing Friday, and his competition Roberto Hernandez was outstanding in his last start. This should be very interesting.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wonders if the Rays could use both Niemann and Hernandez in the rotation.
  • Injury update: Sam Fuld (hamstring tightness) will be ready for Opening Day. He’s looked good in recent minor-league spring training action lately, and is returning to Grapefruit League play today.
  • Meet the newest member of the Rays TV crew: Kelly Nash.
  • Here’s my list of the top 10 Cy Young candidates for 2013.

Rays Fall to Jays 3-1, Fifth Starter Decision Coming Soon

Following a rain out Wednesday night in Fort Myers versus Minnesota, the Rays returned to action losing to Toronto Thursday afternoon by a score 3-1.

Evan Longoria returned to the lineup, going 1-2 with a double and a walk.

Bats were very quiet throughout the entire game for Tampa Bay, as the lineup compiled just one run on six hits. James Loney knocked in the only run of the day, hitting an RBI single in a 2-for-3 effort.

On the hill for the Rays was Roberto Hernandez, who turned in an excellent outing. Hernandez tossed six solid innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out two and walking none.

Hernandez has been battling Jeff Niemann for the fifth spot in the rotation all spring, and Joe Maddon said that he’ll make his decision who gets the job after Niemann pitches tomorrow.

Relievers Jamey Wright, Joel Peralta and Jake McGee all made one-inning appearances Thursday. Wright and Peralta both surrendered solo homers, and McGee had a scoreless frame.

Here’s a full boxscore of the game.

Rays News and Notes:

  • Fernando Rodney returned to Rays camp earlier today (along with Jose Molina) after spending most of his spring with the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Rodney said he feels great and is “ready to go” for the season. He’s scheduled to pitch in two exhibitions; March 27th and March 30th.
  • More Fernando Rodney: The Process Report analyzes the possibility of Rodney tipping his pitches.