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Rays blast Twins 19-0, just miss no-hitter

Alex Cobb was among five Rays pitchers who did not allow a hit for the first eight innings.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb was among five Rays pitchers who did not allow a hit for the first eight innings.

The Rays put up some big numbers in Tuesday's shutout win over the Twins, scoring a team spring record 19 runs while hitting five home runs and rapping 23 hits overall.

What made the day more interesting was how close they came to posting a key little number, as five Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a perfect game through seven innings, but Neil Wagner allowed a single to lead off the eighth to Bengie Gonzalez.

The Rays hitting homers were Curt Casali, Nick Franklin, Rickie Weeks, prospect Jake Bauers (a mammoth grand slam), and minor-leaguer Cade Gotta,

The pitchers who didn't allow anything were starter Alex Cobb (two innings), Dana Eveland, David Carpenter, Alex Colome and Danny Farquhar (two).

The Twins finished with three hits and a walk off Wagner.

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Due to WBC, Rays are taking it slow with some pitchers

Alex Colome will represent the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Colome will represent the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

Because of World Baseball Classic is being played in March, the Rays have to get some of their pitchers ready earlier, with three set to represent their countries in the opening round - RHP Chris Archer (US), RHP Alex Colome (DR) and LHP Jose Alvarado (Venezuela).

But because spring training started earlier due to the WBC, the Rays are also taking it slower with some of their other pitchers, especially three relievers who they are counting upon heavily this season - LHP Xavier Cedeno and RHPs Brad Boxberger and Erasmo Ramirez.

Boxberger was slated for his spring debut Tuesday, but the Rays changed plans and will hold off at least a few more days. Same with Cedeno, who manager Kevin Cash said looked good in a live BP session over the weekend, and Ramirez, who missed a few days early due a slight hamstring issue.

"We're just very much taking a very cautious approach,'' Cash said. "There's really no point in pushing it. ... Given a regular spring (they) wouldn't be pitching at this point anyway, so we're going to push that back and make sure they build up at their own pace.''

Cash said Colome would have been on the same program if he wasn't going to the WBC.

 

 

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Rays report: Cobb, Longo debut vs. Twins today, 1:05

Alex Cobb, who returned last September from Tommy John surgery, will be on the mound for the Rays today.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb, who returned last September from Tommy John surgery, will be on the mound for the Rays today.

The Rays are back in Port Charlotte today to face the Twins for the second time this spring.

RHP Alex Cobb, who returned last September from Tommy John surgery, will be on the mound for the Rays today, making his first appearance of the spring.

It is also opening day for Rays 3B Evan Longoria, who missed two days of workouts early in camp when he was sick.

Also of note today, Brad Miller - who was moved from short to first last year and now is shifting to second - is getting a start today at SS. And Nick Franklin, who impressessed last year, will be in leftfield.

There were a couple of changes to the lineup first posted on Monday, as Tim Beckham and Corey Dickerson asked in.

Here is the lineup:

Dickerson LF,
Kiermaier cf,
Longoria 3b,
Miller SS,
Weeks DH,
Casali c,
Beckham 2b,
Franklin RF,
Bauers 1b,
Cobb p

In the first draft, non-roster prospect Jake Hager was getting the start at second and minor-leaguer Granden Goetzman in rightfield.

And here is the Twins lineup:

Buxton cf,
Polanco ss,
Kepler rf,
Sano 3b,
Paulsen DH,
Vargas 1b,
Escobar 2b,
Murphy c,
Rosario lf,
Santiago p …

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3 takeaways from Monday's 7-2 win against the Phillies

Blake Snell was able to correct the problem that caused him to miss up in the strike zone with his fastball while on the mound

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Blake Snell was able to correct the problem that caused him to miss up in the strike zone with his fastball while on the mound

Three takeaways from the Rays 7-2 win against the Phillies in Clearwater:

1. LHP Blake Snell was able to correct the problem that caused him to miss up in the strike zone with his fastball while on the mound. Manager Kevin Cash said before the game that Snell needs to better command his fastball. Though he can throw four pitches for strikes and possess and impressive curveball, everything begins with his fastball command.

Snell knows he needs to do that and has been working toward that end this spring during his bullpen work.

The problem Monday was his left shoulder flew open during his delivery. That he identified the problem and fixed it while on the mound during the first inning is a big step in his development.

 2.  Yes it is spring training and yes the wind was blowing out at Spectrum Field (isn’t the wind always blowing out during spring training?), but it was nice to see Corey Dickerson go with a pitch and hit an opposite field home run to left field.

At this time of the spring hitters are just trying to feel comfortable at the plate. Sometimes they try to pull the ball because they have yet to reach the point where they will hit the ball where it is pitched.  …

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For starters: Snell debuts today @ Phillies

Blake Snell makes his spring debut this afternoon against the Phillies.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Blake Snell makes his spring debut this afternoon against the Phillies.

Blake Snell makes his spring debut this afternoon against the Phillies at Spectrum Field in Clearwater.

He’s not exactly backed by the Rays A lineup, but with so many frontline players still recovering from offseason surgery or, in the case of 3B Evan Longoria, an illness that kept him out of workouts for two days last week, what do you expect.

Corey Dickerson (designated hitter) and Nick Franklin (second baseman) are the only “varsity players” in the lineup.

Rays fans making the trip will get to see Casey Gillaspie (first base), Jake Bauers (left field) and Daniel Robertson (third baseman).

Former Rays reliever Cesar Ramos, in camp on a minor league contract, is scheduled to pitch an inning for the Phillies.

Here are the lineups:

 

RAYS

Dickerson LF

Franklin 2B

Gillaspie 1B

Bauers LF

McKenry C

Robertson SS

Leonard 3B

Williams RF

Varona CF

Snell LHP

 

PHILLIES

Herandez 2B

Herrera CF

Kendrick DH

Saunders RF

Franco 3B

Hoskins 1B

Galvis SS

Holaday C

Quinn LF

 

Eickhoff RHP

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Rays weekend recap: A 2-1 start, bromance, Kiermaier starring

The Rays had a busy weekend, opening their 34-game exhibition slate on Friday with a win over the Twins, and posting a 2-1 record thus far. Many of the regulars have yet to play, including 3B Evan Longoria, SS Matt Duffy, 1B Logan Morrison, RF Steven Souza Jr. as well as most of the front-line pitchers.

They have a busy week ahead, including an appearance today in the Tampa Bay area, with a game at Clearwater against the Phillies, with LHP Blake Snell on the mound.

Here is the rest of their schedule for the week:
Tuesday: vs. Twins, 1:05
Wednesday: vs. Phillies, 1:05
Thursday: vs. Red Sox (Fort Myers), 1:05.
Friday: Tigers, 1:05.
Saturday: Orioles, 1:05
Sunday: at Blue Jays (Dunedin), 1:07

Here are links to our top stories from the weekend:

* The story of the baseball bromance between the Rays and Mariners, with 12 former Seattle players in camp.

* Kevin Kiermaier has embraced the popularity and marketing opportunities that come with his success, and may be in line for more.

* Add Evan Longoria to the list of MLB stars in no hurry to make rule changes to speed up the game. Plus rumblings.

* RHP Chris Archer is adamant that pitching in the WBC won't disrupt his prep for the season. …

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3 takeaways from Rays' 7-3 Sunday win over Red Sox

Three takeaways from Rays' 7-3 win over Red Sox:

1. Chris Archer is all business. With only two spring starts before joining Team USA and pitching the March 10 World Baseball Classic opener against Colombia, Archer was sharp and focused in his spring debut Sunday, sticking to his plan to work on fastball command, working in the 93-95 range and hitting most of his spots. He threw four-five sliders during his 28-pitch, two inning outing, giving new C Jesus Sucre a bit of a workout.

2. C Jesus Sucre could be an interesting late entrant into the competition for playing time behind the plate. Sucre, acquired just before camp from Seattle, where he caught ace Felix Hernandez, brings a reputation for soft hands and a strong arm to the field, and thus far has shown a live bat as well. "He looks good,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "He looks like he's been playing. He's obviously in sync at the plate. The pitchers seem to really like throwing to him.'' …

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Rays report: Archer vs. Red Sox today at 1:05

UPDATE, 10:02: Jose De Leon, Shawn Tolleson, Xavier Cedeno are slated to throw live BPs today, last hurdle before game action, likely mid-week.

OF Steven Souza Jr. says surgically repaired left hip is responding well, expects to play in first spring game on Wednesday.

DEVELOPING:  After splitting their first two games, the Rays face the Red Sox for the first of five times this spring this afternoon at 1:05 with likely Opening Day starter Chris Archer on the mound.

Archer is pitching the first of two games for the Rays before heading off to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic, planning to work two innings today.

Even though the Rays have 30 position players in major-league camp, several are being held back early in the spring as they recover from injuries, so two minor-leaguers, OFs Joe McCarthy and Justin Williams, are in the starting lineup.

Here is the lineup that was posted Saturday in the clubhouse:

Robertson ss
Kiermaier dh
Weeks 1b
Miller 2b
Beckham 3b
Sucre c
Williams rf
Field cf
McCarthy lf
Archer p

And here is the Red Sox lineup:

Holt ss
Benintendi lf
Craig dh
Bradley cf
Travis 1b
Swihart c
Brentz rf
Hernandez 2b
Dominguez 3b
Velazquez p

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3 takeaways from Rays 7-2 loss to Pirates

Three takeaways from the Rays 7-2 loss to the Pirates:

* CF Kevin Kiermaier is already ready to go. Kiermaier could barely contain his excitement over reporting to camp, and he was in full hustle mode in his Saturday debut, trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to get to second when a blooper dropped in and covering lots of ground in the outfield. "KK was flying all around the outfield,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "He's fun to watch.''

* RHP David Carpenter could make a pitch for a bullpen spot. Dumped after a short stint in spring training last year, Carpenter worked hard, including a stint in the independent Atlantic League, to improve his velocity, and it showed. "It definitely did,'' Cash said. "It looked like it was coming better out of his hand than at any point when we saw him the last time.'' Though the stadium radar readings weren't working early, Carpenter said based on the hitters' swings he too felt his velo was better. …

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Rays report: Home opener today vs. Pirates

Corey Dickerson is batting leadoff today for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Corey Dickerson is batting leadoff today for the Rays.

After opening the spring slate with a 3-1 win over the Twins on Friday in Fort Myers, the Rays play their home opener at the Charlotte Sports Park today against the Pirates at 1:05.

RHP David Carpenter, a big-league veteran in camp on a minor-league deal, will start for the Rays; RHP Josh Lindblom for the Pirates.

Of note in the Rays lineup, Corey Dickerson is batting leadoff, Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier is in CF, top prospect Willy Adames at short and veteran Rickie Weeks learning 1B.

The team is encouraging fans to arrive early due to new MLB-mandated security procedures that require metal detectors and wanding at the gates, which open at 11. Today there is a free fan fest that includes player autographs, mascot appearances, music and some kids activities.

Here is the Rays lineup, as posted on Friday
Dickerson DH
Kiermaier cf
Weeks 1b
Bauers lf
Franklin 2b
Casali c
Adames ss
Leonard 3b
Peterson rf
Carpenter p

Also slated to pitch for the Rays are Dana Eveland, Danny Farquhar, Cory Rasmus, Justin Marks, Jaime Schultz, Neil Wagner and Taylor Guerrieri.

And here is the Pirates split-squad lineup, with ex-Ray John Jaso at 1B:
Harrison 2b
Mercer ss
Jaso 1b
Wood dh
Terdoslavich rf
Osuna lf
Gosselin 3b
Meadows cf
Stallings c
Lindblom p

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Takeaways from Rays 3-1 win: Beckham hitting, Stanek pitching

Three takeaways from the Rays 3-1 spring-season opening win over the Twins:

* Tim Beckham can put a jolt into a ball. Beckham came out swinging, lacing a double to center to start the game and then a triple to right-center. That power potential is what keeps the Rays intrigued and keeps him around. Though he started at shortstop Friday, the Rays will have him move not only around the infield but also, for the first time, to the outfield. That versatility will help them, and help him keep a spot on the roster. "Beck came out swinging ... he looked awesome,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "He's not short on power, being able to hit the ball out of the ballpark and hit it in the gaps. Nice to see he was ready to go early on.''

* RHP Ryne Stanek throws hard. Stanek impressed in facing big-league hitters, hittin 99 mph twice and 98 nine times. All told, he had 16 pitches at 97 or above, and four sliders at 90-93, allowing a walk and an infield single in the sixth. "Ryne Stanek, obviously, with the big fastball was impressive,'' Cash said. "You can't overlook the velocity, it's pretty impressive.'' …

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Spring report: Rays face Twins tonight in opener

Brad Miller will make his frst appearance at second base tonight.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Brad Miller will make his frst appearance at second base tonight.

UPDATE, 6:04: RHP Ryan Garton was scratched from the list of pitchers because he is ill. That makes RHP Diego Moreno the only Rays pitcher tonight with big-league experience. ... Cash said 1B Casey Gillaspie will get some playing time early in spring as Logan Morrison probably won't play the first week as he is coming off wrist surgery. ... Cash said Tim Beckham, who started at short on Friday, will definitely get some time in the outfield, as soon as the end of next week, and that him being able to play there will be a big help with roster construction for the season. …

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Rays' Colby Rasmus says we may not have seen last of beard

Colby Rasmus' beard was described as "puke" worthy by Deadspin.

Deadspin

Colby Rasmus' beard was described as "puke" worthy by Deadspin.

OF Colby Rasmus didn't expect to make his first headlines with the Rays because of his scraggly chin beard.

Rasmus chuckled Thursday at all the attention, and Internet hate, he is getting for the chin beard he grew for no specific reason - and shaved off for a good one.

"It's kind of simple really, I'm not really trying to make a statement or nothing. I just started growing it out and it doesn't grow too good up here on my face and I don't like to get the bumps on my neck. It felt good to me,'' he said. "But you know how judgmental people are, they try to tell me what I should feel and how it feels on my face.''

Rasmus - unfortunately, or fortunately if you are in the blog business - still had the beard for the Rays Photo Day on Saturday, so the pictures have circulated widely on the Internet.

The website deadspin.com did a post saying the beard could make you "puke" and the Rays tweeted a photo Wednesday of him clean-shaven.

Rasmus decided a couple days later to shave it off - at the suggestion of his wife, Megan, not so much because she hated it but because it was the lesser of two evils. …

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Port Charlotte report: Rainy day, union meeting

It's already soggy in Port Charlotte.

MARC TOPKIN / TAMPA BAY TIMES

It's already soggy in Port Charlotte.

UPDATE, 10:16: Due to the rain, all workouts will be the cages, and the complex is closed to fans. Pitchers will be able to throw off the mounds, and hitters hit off machines or coaches' throwing. ...Longoria was back in the clubhouse and with the team.

DEVELOPING: What is expected to be day-long rains have already started here in Port Charlotte, which likely will keep the Rays off the fields, with pitchers and hitters instead headed to the covered batting cages,

There still will be some business accomplished, as the players have their annual meeting with players union chief Tony Clark and staff.

Today was scheduled to be the fourth day of live batting practice, and additional work on team fundamentals.

3B Evan Longoria missed the last two days of workouts sick.

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No Rays for Wieters, who has $21M, two-year deal with Nats

The Rays made an offer to land Wieters, pitching a one-year deal that gave him the opportunity to rebuild his value for another run at free agency in 2018.

[Getty Images]

The Rays made an offer to land Wieters, pitching a one-year deal that gave him the opportunity to rebuild his value for another run at free agency in 2018.

UPDATE, 3:59: The Rays offer was for about $6-million guaranteed, with the chance with all incentives to get past $10-million. ... They are not expected to have interest in Derek Norris, who the Nats now will look to trade.

UPDATE, 12:39: The deal, confirmed by multiple sources, is for $21-million, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, with salaries of $10M in 2017 and $11M in 2018 unless he opts out.

DEVELOPING: The Rays' hopes of landing free-agent C Matt Wieters appear to have ended Tuesday with a report by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that the former Orioles All-Star is close to a deal with the Nationals.

The deal is said to be for two years, though with an opt-out after the first.

The Rays made an offer to land Wieters, pitching a one-year deal that gave him the opportunity to rebuild his value for another run at free agency in 2018. They knew they were not in position to offer the most money, just what they positioned as the a prime opportunity - to be their everyday catcher, stay in the AL East and closer to his Atlanta home, and work with their talented pitching staff. …

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