CLEARWATER — 1B Jake Bauers has drawn attention for the massive homers he has launched.
But the promising prospect can flash some leather, too, showing off several times in Saturday's 5-3 come-from-behind win over the Phillies.
Most impressive was a running, sliding, over-the-shoulder catch of a foul pop to end the fourth, along with a nifty pickup of an infield roller and pitchout.
"I can play first a little bit," Bauers said. "I feel like if I get a full year out there under my belt I could make a lot of good things happen on defense that maybe not most guys can."
Said an impressed manager Kevin Cash: "He looks kind of like a left-handed shortstop he's so confident over there with his hands."
Bauers, who can also play outfield, is targeted to open the season back at Triple-A.
Minor-league OF David Olmedo-Barrera made the most of his chance to come off the bench, hitting an opposite field homer in the eighth and then lashing a three-run game-winning homer to right in the ninth off Phillies closer Hector Neris. "It's a lot more fun to hit homers in big-league spring training," said Olmedo-Barrera, a 2015 12th round pick. "My favorite game so far."
Said Cash: "I guess we'll have him back over here."
The Cal State Fullerton product's last name was Barrera and after his parents divorced he added Olmedo and the hyphen when he was about seven in honor of his mom. Though he played with no name on game jersey, he pointed out "my spring training jersey has my whole name. It goes hip to hip — it's ridiculous. And really heavy."
RHP Nathan Eovaldi, working to come back as a starter from a second Tommy John surgery, was pleased with his off-speed pitches but not fastball command during a three-plus inning, 53-pitch outing. Cash said the "ball was coming out of his hand pretty electric" and noted the effectiveness of his splitter on a "really good day" overall. … RHP Yonny Chirnos got the ground ball he needed with the bases loaded when 3B Christian Arroyo started a 5-2-3 double play but then threw a wild pitch that scored a run, his overall command not sharp. … SS Jake Cronenworth made a great play in the hole in the ninth. … The Rays improved to 7-8-1.
Though set on the big-league level with Wilson Ramos and backup Jesus Sucre, the Rays need to sort out their catching at Triple-A Durham, even more so with prospect Nick Ciuffo suspended 50 games. Top candidates are Xorge Carrillo, Johnny Monell and Adam Moore, who will be out five-six days with a bruised left thumb. Another option in minor-league camp is Roberto Pena, a defensive specialist who played last season at Triple-A for the White Sox.
• INF Nick Solak (acquired from the Yankees) and Cronenworth were reassigned to minor-league camp reducing the roster to 59.
• New in-game reporter Michelle Margaux debuts Sunday on Fox Sports Sun's game telecast.
• SS Willy Adames' bat flew out of his hands and over the protective netting on the game's first pitch, but the only casualty apparently was a beer.
• Rock and roll Hall of Famer Robin Zander threw out the first pitch and it was no cheap trick.