UPDATE, 9:35: Change in pitching plans for the Rays, apparently, as Erasmo Ramirez is now listed as the starter. That makes sense, as he is a potential trade candidate since he may have more value to another team as a starter than the to the Rays as a middle reliever, and it also gets him stretched out for multi-inning work or even as a fill-in starter for the Rays.
Here is the lineup:
No sign Friday morning of SS Matt Duffy, who went to Charlotte on Thursday to have his left heel checked by the doc who did his Sept. surgery....
The Rays are among the teams talking with free-agent C Derek Norris, that Tampa Bay Times has learned, but according to a source as of Thursday night "are on the outside looking in.''
Norris was released last week by the Nationals - because they signed Matt Wieters whom the Rays pursued - and was paid about $700,000 in termination pay, one-sixth of his $4.2-million arbitration contract. He is free to sign elsewhere and negotiate his best deal.
Signing Norris, 28, would give the Rays a more experienced option behind the plate, as they otherwise would be picking two catchers from the group of Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Jesus Sucre, who was acquired just before spring training from the Mariners. Norris has made 446 big-league starts for Oakland and San Diego, Casali has made 116, Sucre 77 and Maile 43.
Norris is coming off a rough offensive year in San Diego, where he hit .186 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs, though only a .255 on-base percentage and .583 OPS. While his offense has been in a two-year decline since his 2014 All-Star season with Oakland, his defensive work, specifically his pitch framing, has improved....
03/23/17 The Heater
PORT CHARLOTTE — Where the Rays will be playing in five or six years is one complex question principal owner Stuart Sternberg is trying to answer.
STADIUM SEARCH: Top choices are unavailable, but Rays still hope to find a new home in Tampa Bay, Stuart Sternberg says.
03/23/17 The Heater
PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg revealed some complications in his team's search for a new stadium on Thursday, yet said he's still confident they will find a new home in the Tampa Bay area.
What were the Rays' top five choices for a new stadium — three in Tampa and two in St. Petersburg — are unavailable. That may push the team's time line for finding a new site from August to the end of 2017....
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg still expects to conclude the search for a new stadium site in the Tampa Bay area this year, but revealed Thursday that they have been denied their top choice, or even top two.
"We had some ideas on locations that just weren't available, that I thought would have worked perfectly, but they're off the table,'' Sternberg said in Port Charlotte. "So we're sort of moving down our list to Nos. 2, 3 and 4. It's like starting pitchers, you have five of them and sometimes No. 4 is better than No. 2, but rarely better than No. 1. The No. 1 is the No. 1. I hate to be mixing these sort of metaphors, but it sort of works in this case....
The Rays are back in Port Charlotte today to host the Yankees with ESPN televising, first pitch at 1:05.
RHP Austin Pruitt, one of the prospects making an push for a job in the bullpen, will start for the Rays. LHP Jordan Montgomery will start for the Yankees.
Also slated to pitch for the Rays: RH Chase Whitley, RH Danny Farquhar, RH Shawn Tolleson, LH Xavier Cedeño, RH David Carpenter....
03/22/17 The Heater
SARASOTA — Kevin Cash said this is the best RHP Chris Archer has looked during Cash's three springs as the Rays' manager, and Archer agrees.
The yet-to-be announced opening day starter pitched 52/3 innings Wednesday, his longest outing of the spring, in a 7-4 loss to the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Archer allowed his first runs of the spring, three of which were earned, and a two-run home run to centerfield to Chris Johnson. But Archer said he threw only six sliders, opting to continue his plan this spring to improve his fastball command....
03/22/17 The Heater
PORT CHARLOTTE — The way last season ended, Tim Beckham could not have seemed more irrelevant to the Rays, sent down after late-season mental lapses, then sent home for September even as two infielders were summoned to fill in off their couches.
The way this season is starting, Beckham could not seem more important to the Rays, slated initially for a key super-utility role and then, with Matt Duffy's stalled heel rehab, shifted to what looks to be the starting shortstop job, impressing since camp opened with his performance and attitude....
UPDATE, 1:16: SS Matt Duffy will fly to N.C. on Thursday to see the doctor who did the Septe,ber surgery on his left heel to see why his recovery has been slow and if some change to his rehab program might help. ... RHP Jumbo Diaz reported to camp, having been claimed on waivers from the Reds while with the Dominican WBC team, and said he is ready to compete for a spot in the bullpen, planning to workout today and throw in the Thursday game,
Here is the Rays lineup:
03/21/17 The Heater
Today: at Orioles, 6:05
Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota
Pitchers: Rays, Chris Archer; Orioles, Chris Lee
Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297
Thursday: vs. Yankees, 1:05. Rays, Austin Pruitt; Yankees, Jordan Montgomery
Friday: at Pirates (Bradenton), 1:05. Rays, Diego Moreno; Pirates, Trevor Williams...
03/21/17 The Heater
BRADENTON — The reasoning for newly acquired SS Matt Duffy having heel surgery in September was so that he would finish his rehab in spring training and be ready to start the season.
But Duffy is still limited to drills and strengthening exercises, not yet having even run.
And the Rays are seeking answers for the slow pace of his recovery.
"I hope in the next few days we get a little more clarity," manager Kevin Cash said. "I think we're to the point now that some of these issues might not even be from the actual surgery, and I'm saying that in a good way. Maybe we get him checked out and it's something we can do something different with and treat a little differently."...
3 takeaways from Rays 5-4 loss Pirates
* INF Daniel Robertson has a real chance to make the team. With Matt DUffy out and Tim Beckham sliding into the starting SS job, Robertson could make the team as a utility infielder given the need for a right-handed bat. After a slow start, and the maturity to scrap changes he made during the winter to his stance by adding a leg kick, Robertson has looked better at the plate and in the field. Depending on if the Rays add a right-handed hitting outfielder, Robertson could be competing with Michael McKenry or Nick Franklin for a roster spot. "I'm happy to be out there playing, having fun, feeling relaxed,' he said. "I'm really free of mind right not, letting the game come to me.''...
With RHP Brad Boxberger injured, RHP Shawn Tolleson working his way back from back issues and RHP Jumbo Diaz still making his way to camp from the WBC, the Rays have plenty of reasons to be concerned about a bullpen that needed improvement to begin with.
But having RHP Alex Colome back healthy from the WBC and seeing good things this spring from non-roster veteran RHP Tommy Hunter help.
And the performance of several others who were not considered prime candidates give manager Kevin Cash reason to feel better about things....
The Rays are trying to seek answers about the slow rehab pace of SS Matt Duffy, who remains limited to drills and strengthening exercises on his left heel and will be sidelined into April.
"I hope in the next few days we get a little more clarity,'' manager Kevin Cash said Tuesday. "I know we're talking to doctors and stuff like that trying to get a sense. I think we're to the point now that some of these issues might not even be from the actual surgery, and I'm saying that in a good way. Maybe we get him checked out and it's something we can do something different with and treat a little differently.''
Duffy had heel issues when acquired Aug. 1 from the Giants for Matt Moore, and underwent surgery Sept. 9 with the expectation he would be limited a bit in spring training but ready for opening day. That has not been the case, as Duffy has not started running yet. much less played in any games.
Cash said Duffy may go to Charlotte to see Dr. Bob Anderson, who did the surgery....
UPDATE, 10:39: Pirates lineup, with ex-Ray John Jaso at 3b:
UPDATE, 9:07: Colome has rejoined the Rays from the WBC, said he enjoyed the experience a lot, his arm feels good and he is excited to be back with his team to get ready for the season. ... Boxberger acknowledged that he won't be ready for opening day and doesn't know how far behind he will be due to the lat strain but still maintains it is not serious. ... RHP Jumbo Diaz had not yet reported as of this morning.
Here is the Rays lineup: