3 Takeaways from Rays' 3-2 win against Jays
3 takeaways from Saturday’s 3-2 win against the Blue Jays in Dunedin:
-- There’s always one rookie that excites everyone during spring training and right now that is Jake Bauers, who hit his team-leading fourth home run Saturday. It was a two-run blast into the protective netting above the right field fence at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Bauers said he began preparing or camp earlier than normal during the offseason knowing that he had an opportunity to showcase his talents with the big leaguers. Good to see that attitude, and good to see the work pay off.
What impressed Saturday was he turned on a high-fastball, something you don’t always see from left-handers. Baurers said he can handle that pitch. Looks like he wasn’t kidding.
-- RHP Chase Whitley spent last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He returned in September and pitched in five games for the Rays. The Rays liked what they saw then and like that they’re seeing this spring.
Whitley started against the Jays and pitched a season-high four innings. He allowed two singles, walked one and struck out four. Right now he is competing for a spot in the bullpen, though manager Kevin Cash did not rule out Whitley being used as a starter. If he continues to pitch this way, he could get big outs for the Rays as a long man in the bullpen. The Rays could use someone like that.
-- It doesn’t look like RHP Brad Boxberger will be ready by Opening Day. Sidelined this spring with lat/back soreness, Boxberger pitched live batting practice Saturday in Port Charlotte. His first 10 or so pitches were a little off, but he gathered himself after that and finished strong.
Boxberger reported that felt healthy, which is the important thing. He hopes to pitch Tuesday in a minor league game. Hard to believe he can have enough outings over what’s left of camp to be ready April 2. He’s running out of time.
Also, Cash said the team will not push him to be ready by the opener. Remember what the bullpen looked like last year during those long stretches without Boxberger? The Rays want to avoid that this season. So if Boxberger misses the first week or so of the season, he misses the first week or so of the season. Better that than a big chunk because they wanted him ready in early April.