With Spring Training on the wind down, Chris Archer took the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays in his final Grapefruit League start of the season. Despite nine combined and solid pitched innings of baseball, the Rays fell 1-0 to the Minnesota Twins.
Takeaways from Tuesday’s ball game:
— Archer looked ready for Opening Day, throwing 39 pitches (27 strikes) and allowing just one hit and a walk while fanning four. Archer’s fastball looked good, with an average velocity sitting at 96 mph, and he located his slider and his improved changeup. Overall, Archer has been efficient this spring, and has allowed just three earned runs in 13-2/3 innings while striking out 17.
The right-hander was pleased with his spring performance, and justifiably so.
I came in with a couple of goals, and I think I achieved those goals, said Archer. Now I’m looking forward to April 2 and kicking this thing off right.
(Audio Courtesy of Rays Radio)
— Derek Norris made his debut with the Rays and went 1-3 at the plate, and threw out a runner trying to swipe second. He was pleased by his seven inning debut:
(Audio Courtesy of Rays Radio)
— Daniel Robertson continued his push for a spot on the Opening Day roster, collecting two of Tampa Bay’s five hits. Rays beat writer Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) is impressed with both Robertson and RHP Austin Pruitt:
What I like about this is the Rays normally do not begin the year with rookies on the roster. They would rather not start their arbitration clock so early, and they’d rather the kids work up a sweat at Durham before joining the big club.
Now, they might send both back to Durham. But that we’re just days away from Opening Day and two rookies (along with RHP Jaime Schultz) have a chance to break camp with the team shows the farm system might be ready to spit out a few more major leaguers. The Rays constantly talk about how the farm system is the life blood of the organization. It would be nice to see it churn out a few who actually contribute.
Rays manager Kevin Cash also is a fan of Robertson:
Robby’s having a pretty solid spring.
— Alex Cobb remains on schedule to pitch the third game of the season on April 5, even after skipping Sunday’s start because of lower back tightness. Cobb told the Tampa Bay Times his back felt better Tuesday, and was confident it would not — “Not at all” — disrupt his schedule.
He is expected to throw a bullpen session Wednesday, and make his final spring start on Friday in Clearwater.
— Also on the injury front, Tim Beckham is on track to be the Opening Day shortstop, despite irritation in his right hip flexor that kept him away from game action on Sunday. He is slated to return to the fold Wednesday.
— Matt Duffy told the Times his surgically repaired left heel was feeling “really good” and “normal” after four days of rest in a hard cast, following an MRI and doctor exam that showed no issues.
The Rays will slowly build Duffy up, with no set target date to start playing rehab games, or appear in a regular-season game.
Step one is complete. It feels good, Duffy said. Now Step two is strengthening it for a while and continuing to feel good.
— Two non-roster invitees, Rickie Weeks and Tommy Hunter, were informed that they will make the Opening Day roster as members of the team.
Weeks has taken on a mentor role this spring, providing leadership to some of the younger players on the team, like Tim Beckham. He also adds a veteran presence to the clubhouse. He will platoon first base with Logan Morrison, especially against left handed pitching.
Weeks will make $1.5-million this season, with the chance to make $600-thousand more in incentives.
Hunter, a major league veteran of nine seasons, will help out in back end of the Rays bullpen. He will make a base salary of $1.4-million, with the chance of $1.5-million more in incentives.
Since Tampa Bay has a full 40-man roster, two moves will have to be made before the team takes the field on Sunday.
The New What Next
The Rays play host the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday at Charlotte Sports Park. Erasmo Ramirez will get the start opposite Baltimore’s Opening Day pitcher Kevin Gausman. Also scheduled to toe the rubber are Xavier Cedeno, Alex Colome, Jaime Schultz, Tommy Hunter, and Jumbo Diaz.
Rays 3/29/17 Starting Lineup
Baseball bloggers…they’re just like us
X-Rays Spex was on hand last night at the State Theater, where we watched one of the greatest rock bands of the last 30 years — Dinosaur Jr. If you’re not familiar with the band that influenced practically every modern punk and indie band, including My Bloody Valentine and Nirvana, well…uh, my sympathies to you.