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Rays report: Port Charlotte finale with Odorizzi on the hill

The Rays break camp this afternoon and head to the Trop after facing the Twins in Port Charlotte, first pitch 1:05.

RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, Hector Santiago for the Twins.

The Rays play their spring finale on Friday in Clearwater, have a workout Saturday and then open the season on Sunday against the Yankees.

Several roster decisions remain, including:

* Picking two relievers from the group of Jumbo Diaz, Austin Pruitt, Jaime Schultz and Chase Whitley.

* Picking three bench players from the group of OF Peter Bourjos. INF Nick Franklin, INF Daniel Robertson and OF Mallex Smith.

 

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3 takeaways from Wednesday's win against the Orioles

3 takeaways from Rays 15-6 win against the Orioles:

1. As first impressions go, newly acquired OF Peter Bourjos made a good one with a leaping catch at the center field wall, three hits, including a two-run homer, and three RBI.

The Rays tried to sign Bourjos in the offseason, because they needed a right-handed hitting outfielder and a backup to Kevin Kiermaier in center. The interested ended when the Rays acquired Mallex Smith from the Mariners for Drew Smyly.

Bourjos provides just what the Rays are seeking. They do need a backup for Kiermaier, so they don’t burn the speedster out with too many games on the Trop’s turf and so they can sit him against tough left-handers. Bourjos brings major league experience, which means he’s not trying to find his way through his first big league season. He can play the other outfield spots so he does add the always important versatility to the roster.

2. I think LHP Xavier Cedeño is going to be a big piece to the Rays bullpen this season, especially with RHP Brad Boxberger out for the start of the year with a lat strain. Cedeño often gets overlooked, which is actually a good thing for a reliever who is not the closer or is not giving up runs.  …

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More roster moves for Rays: Sucre makes team; Casali, Maile optioned

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Luke Maile plays catch during an open workout at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Luke Maile plays catch during an open workout at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.

UPDATE, 10:08: With Tolleson "on the outside looking in,'' the Rays have competition for final bullpen spots among Jumbo Diaz, Chase Whitley and prospects Jaime Schultz and Austin Pruitt. ... Cash said he expects both Marks and Moreno to help the Rays at some point this season.

UPDATE, 10:03: Cash said RHP Shawn Tolleson is likely headed to open the season on the DL  as he has been slowed by back issues. He also praised Sucre for winning a spot on the team, noting his defensive skills in particular, and said Norris will get most of the playing time.

UPDATE, 9:49: The Rays have told C Jesus Sucre he will make the opening day roster and have also optioned Curt Casali to AAA.

Also optioned was RHP Ryan Garton.

Resassigned to minor-league camp were LHP Justin Marks, C Michael McKenry, RHP Diego Moreno, and OF Shane Peterson.

Sucre needs to be added to the roster, as do Rickie Weeks and Tommy Hunter. …

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Rays report: Erasmo on mound vs. Orioles in PC, 1:05

Erasmo Ramirez is starting today.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Erasmo Ramirez is starting today.

UPDATE, 8:48: Here is the Rays lineup, with newcomer Peter Bourjos getting right to work:

Bourjos cf,
Norris DH,
Longoria 3b,
Dickerson LF,
Weeks 1b,
Souza RF,
Beckham SS,
Franklin 2b,
Sucre c,
Ramirez p

DEVELOPING: The Rays are back in Port Charlotte for the first of their final two home games of the spring, facing the Orioles at 1:05.

RHP Erasmo Ramirez is starting today, which could be a sign of either wanting to have him stretched out in case there is an issue with one of the starters (such as Alex Cobb's previously stiff back), or so he can pitch multiple innings if one of the starters gets knocked out early, or in showcase for a potential trade.

SS Tim Beckham said he will be back in action today after missing the last two games due to a hip flexor issue.

OF Peter Bourjos has already joined the team, following his Tuesday trade from the White Sox.

 

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Three takeaways from Tuesday's 1-0 loss at Twins

Chris Archer looks as ready as any of the Rays’ starters for his Opening Day start.

AP photo

Chris Archer looks as ready as any of the Rays’ starters for his Opening Day start.

3 takeaways from Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the Twins in Fort Myers:

1. RHP Chris Archer looks as ready as any of the Rays’ Opening Day starters for his Opening Day start, Sunday against the visiting Yankees. He dealt with an uneven camp in that he left to pitch for the USA in the WBC and had to work with two new catchers – Jesus Sucre, in camp from the start, and now Derek Norris.

Archer said he had some goals for this spring: work on his fastball command, improve his changeup, focus on each pitch and not get caught up with who’s batting. Manager Kevin Cash said Archer put checks in all those boxes. Cash said this is Archer’s best spring during Cash’s three seasons as manager. Archer agrees. It’s hard not to agree.

Archer has worked efficiently, allowed only three earned runs in 13 2/3 innings while striking out 17. Pitchers often shrug off poor spring outings by saying it’s spring and he’s working on something. Archer was working on a lot while dealing with the WBC distraction and excelled.

That might be the best sign on the team heading into Sunday’s opener.  …

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UPDATE: Rays finalize deal to to acquire Peter Bourjos from White Sox

The Rays acquired Peter Bourjos from the White Sox for cash considerations or a player to be named.

JAMES BORCHUCK (2011)

The Rays acquired Peter Bourjos from the White Sox for cash considerations or a player to be named.

UPDATE, 11:00: The deal is now official, Bourjos acquired for cash considerations or a player to be named.

Though he is a class xx(b) free agent, the Rays will delay the decision on whether he makes the opening day roster by paying him the $100,000 retention bonus. That also gives them the option to send him to Triple-A Durham, as he is on a minor-league deal.

Bourjos hit .251-5-23 for the Phillies in 355 at-bats last season with a .681 OPS. …

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Hunter, Weeks will make Rays opening day roster

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Rickie Weeks (8) rounds the bases on his solo home run in the second inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Rickie Weeks (8) rounds the bases on his solo home run in the second inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.

Veterans RHP Tommy Hunter and INF Rickie Weeks have been told by manager Kevin Cash they will be on the Rays opening day roster.

The Rays had to make a decision by noon today on the two, as they were classified as xx(b) free agents and signed minor-league deals and either tell them they would make the roster, be released, or paid a $100,000 retention bonus to stick around.

Both figure to play key roles for the Rays, with Hunter joining a bullpen tha will be missing RHP Brad Boxberger for at least the first month, and Weeks playing 1B (or DH) against lefty pitchers.

The Rays are in the process of finalizing a trade with the White Sox (for cash considerations) for veteran OF Peter Bourjos, who is subject to the same restrictions, but it appears they will wait on that decision and pay him the bonus. That also allows the Rays to send him to Triple-A for depth there.

Hunter said this morning he was excited by the opportunity.

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Rays report: Archer facing Twins, Bourjos coming in

Chris Archer is slated to be on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Chris Archer is slated to be on the mound for the Rays.

UPDATE, 10:25: There was some good news on SS Matt Duffy, who said an MRI on his surgically repaired left heel was clean and that after four days of rest - with his heel in a cast - it only felt better today but felt "normal.'' But, Duffy said he will be taking it "super slow" to build up strength and then start further testing the heel, which make it premature to even predict when he will be able to start playing. Duffy did say a similar rest program helped him last spring when he was with the Giants, and he played several months with no issues.
 …

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Our latest prediction for Rays opening day roster

Sixth of our weekly semi-educated guesses at the makeup of the 25-man opening day roster:

PITCHERS (12): Matt Andriese, Chris Archer, Xavier Cedeno, Alex Cobb, Alex Colome, Jumbo Diaz, Danny Farquhar, Tommy Hunter*, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Snell, Chase Whitley

CATCHERS (2): Derek Norris*, Jesus Sucre*

INFIELDERS (6): Tim Beckham, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Daniel Robertson, Rickie Weeks*

OUTFIELDERS (5): Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith, Steven Souza Jr., TBD from outside organization*

DISABLED LIST (6): RHP Brad Boxberger, SS Matt Duffy, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Kevin Gadea, C Wilson Ramos, OF Colby Rasmus

* Has to be added to 40-man roster

 

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Rays new Trop offerings include Urban Dugout, Fish Shack, Cuban Favorites

Urban Chicken and Waffle Cone and Urban Mac and Cheese which will be available at Urban Dugout.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Urban Chicken and Waffle Cone and Urban Mac and Cheese which will be available at Urban Dugout.

In addition to announcing new head chef Marcelo Miranda, the Rays and concessionaire Centerplate today unveiled a number of new food and drink offerings at the Trop for this season.

Among the highlights in the release from the team:

* New to the lineup is the Urban Dugout, a food stand operated by Urban Restaurant Group. Their St. Petersburg restaurants-Urban Brew and BBQ, Urban Comfort, Urban Deli and Drafts and Urban Creamery-serve up fresh goodies prepared from scratch. The stand will feature a selection of favorites including their famous crispy fried chicken sandwich, chicken and waffles, homemade mac and cheese and delicious BBQ plates. Crowd favorites Taco Bus, Pipo's and Evan Longoria's Ducky's restaurant all return this season, as well. …

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3 takeaways from Rays 7-4 loss to Yankees

3 takeaways from Rays 7-4 loss to Yankees:

* RHP Matt Andriese needs to pitch better. Given the No. 5 starter's job without much competition, Andriese welcomed the chance to settle into a spring routine knowing he would be in the rotation. But he hasn't pitched well enough to inspire much confidence, Sunday's laborius outing (86 pitches, 51 strikes) the latest example. Over four big-league spring games, Andriese has allowed 17 hits and six walks in 10 2/3 innings, while also pitching in a minor-league game and a sim game. One major issue Sunday was a lack of aggressiveness overall and the absence of his effective off-speed pitches. "I've got to forget about this one and move on to the next one and get ready for the season,'' Andriese said. …

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Cobb scratched from minor-league start due to back tightness

Rays RHP Alex Cobb was scratched from a planned minor-league intrasquad start this morning in Port Charlotte due to lower back tightness.

Manager Kevin Cash said they did not expect the issue to disrupt their season-opening pitching plans, as Cobb is slated to pitch Game 3 on April 5.

"I don't think it changes anything,'' Cash said.

Sunday was to be Cobb's long start of the spring, when he was to throw 100+ pitches, and then make an abbreviated outing on Friday in Clearwater.

The Rays probably won't know until seeing how he feels on Monday how best to proceed, but Cobb could just skip this start, pitch Friday and head into the season.

Cobb said via text he "definitely could have pitched today" and "this is really nothing.''

 

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Rays report: Andriese vs. Yankees in Tampa, 1:05

UPDATE, 1:17: The addition of C Derek Norris to the 40-man roster was made official as the Rays placed Rule 5 pick RHP Kevin Gadea on the 60-day DL due to right elbow tendinitis. Gadea was going to be returned to the Mariners when he developed a sore elbow; he now will get major-league pay and service time while on the DL.

UPDATE, 12:14: 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Logan Morrison, bench/infield coach Tom Foley and manager Kevin Cash all gave positive reviews of their first experience on the new turf at Tropicana Field, noting that it looked better and played true.

UPDATE, 12:02: The Rays lineup, with Robertson replacing Tim Beckham, who was scratched due to irritation in his hip flexor that he started feeling after Saturday's game:

Dickerson lf
Kiermaier cf
Longoria 3b
Miller 2b
Morrison 1b
Weeks dh
Robertson ss
Sucre c
Smith rf
Andriese p

UPDATE, 9:48: Haven't seen Rays lineup but here is how Yankees look for today:
Ellsbury cf
Hicks lf
Bird 1b
Carter dh
Judge rf
Romine c
Torreyes 3b
Tejada 2b
Kozma ss
Mitchell p …

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3 takeaways from Rays 7-5 loss to Red Sox

3 takeaways from Rays 7-5 loss to Red Sox

* LHP Blake Snell showed improvement, but still has to get better. The second-year lefty apparently got the message that his bosses were tired of seeing him pitch poorly and then say he knows what he needs to do but has to do it. He showed some of that over 4 2/3 on Saturday, throwing his fastball with more conviction and using his slider as a weapon. But he made a big mistake in allowing a three-run homer to Pablo Sandoval, and throwing 92 pitches without getting through five innings isn't good enough, and he seemed to know that, too. "I was happy with the way I attacked the zone,'' Snell said. "I felt like I took a stride, I felt like I was more into it, more believing in what I have, more aggressive. Definitely taking that positive, knowing there's a bunch I still need to work on.'' …

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Rays make official deal with free-agent C Derek Norris

The Rays on Saturday made official the signing of free-agent C Derek Norris, who got a one-year deal for $1.2-million plus up to $800,000 in incentives.

Norris, 28, was released last week by the Nationals, who out-bid the Rays to sign Matt Wieters.

The Rays have to create space to add Norris to the 40-man, and will announce a corresponding move later. Moving RHP Kevin Gadea or C Wilson Ramos to the 60-day DL seem easiest.

With Norris expected to be their starting catcher and Jesus Sucre in line to be the other, the Rays are looking at sending either Curt Casali or Luke Maile to Triple-A and possibly trade the other.

Signing Norris gives 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.

He chose the Rays over several other teams based on the opportunity for more playing time. …

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