Spring game report: Rays at Astros
Update 4:19 p.m Rays win 11-3 over Astros, as LHP Jake McGee finishes it out.
Manager Joe Maddon was pleased with how RHP Wade Davis threw, going six innings while allowing three runs (one earned) on 94 pitches. He liked Davis' tempo, and how he integrated his changeup, which Davis said was the best it's been in a while.
Maddon also praised INF Elliot Johnson, who had two hits and three steals, saying he's having a "great spring," and is a perfect example of a player heeding advice given during pre-spring meetings.
Maddon said LF Johnny Damon taking four walks was impressive, but it also served as an example for the other young players on the trip.
Update 3:58 p.m RHP Kyle Farnsworth had his second scare of the week. On his first pitch, Farnsworth tried to field a comebacker and inadvertantly hit the same spot on his left leg he injured Monday.
Manager Joe Maddon pulled him as a precaution, as Farnsworth said he was okay, "It was just like hitting your funny bone." Farnsworth got checked out by trainers afterwards and said he's good to go for tommorrow's scheduled appearance (supposed to be second of a back-to-back).
Update 3:55 p.m The Rays pulled away late in the game, with a Felipe Lopez double and a two-run homer by Stephen Vogt. It's now 11-3 in the ninth.
Update 2:55 p.m OF Sam Fuld rips a two-run homer in the sixth to make it 6-2 Rays.
Update 2:44 p.m Wade Davis got out of a jam in the fifth when, after allowing the first two hitters aboard (single and walk), he got Jason Michaels to ground into a double play and Carlos Lee to fly out to center.
Rays 4, Astros 2
Update 2:38 p.m Word from Port Charlotte is that three Rays relievers pitched in a Triple-A game on the back fields, with RHP Joel Peralta striking out one in 1 1/3 innings, and Rob Delaney throwing a scoreless inning.
But RHP Adam Russell continued his spring-long struggles, giving up two runs on three hits with a walk in one inning (including two strikeouts).
Update 2:24 p.m Chris Carter had an RBI single and Elliot Johnson an RBI groundout in the fourth to make it 4-2 Rays. It was a good inning, which included a sacrifice bunt by Sam Fuld.
Update 1:56 p.m 3B Sean Rodriguez, hitting cleanup, did his job in the third, ripping a two-run double off the centerfield wall to tie the game at 2-2.
Update 1:50 p.m RHP Wade Davis gives up two runs in the first inning - both unearned - after a Reid Brignac throwing error starts a Astros' rally. He's allowed three hits through two innings, with the Rays down 2-0.
Elliot Johnson is having a good day, with two hits, and three steals (including another in the third inning).
Update 1:17 p.m Elliot Johnson showed what makes him attractive for the utility infielder spot, singling and stealing two bases in the first inning before getting stranded on third. OF Johnny Damon also walked and stole second.
Update 12:08 p.m. There was no big news out of manager Joe Maddon's pre-game media session, though it's still unclear when C John Jaso will return to game action.
Jaso, who got struck in the groin area by a foul tip last Saturday, is still sore, according to Maddon. They had hoped he'd be ready to do some sort of playing today, but Maddon said it still bothers him during some baseball activities. Maddon said they still plan on having him ready for the start of the regular season, but if not, C Jose Lobaton - who catches today - would be a "good candidate" to replace him temporarily on the Opening Day roster.
Lobaton, a rookie who is hitting .360 this spring with a homer, has impressed Maddon with his work defensively, including handling the pitching staff.
"He's doing really well right now," Maddon said. "His dealing or handling with the pitching staff has been impressive. He has been making well timed trips to the mound. I think he’s showing imagination calling the game. And he’s also swinging the bat well. But my bigger concern would be the defensive side of things and I like what he's dong there right now."
Maddon said if Lobaton, a switch- hitter, is the guy who has to step in, he would use him, rather than have Kelly Shoppach shoulder most of the load. C Robinson Chrinos, a prospect acquired from the Cubs in the offseason Matt Garza trade, is another possibility after a strong spring, but Maddon has said they don't want to shuffle him back and forth - they'd rather have him come up and play.
*Maddon was looking forward to seeing RHP Wade Davis today. With David Price and James Shields having strong back-to-back performances, Maddon said the staff usually feeds off each other, and is curious how Davis does. He could throw between 90-100 pitches.
*Maddon said he's pleased with how the bullpen has come together, and even if they don't make a move to acquire anyone before opening day, he's comfortable with what he has.
Update 12:06: Here's the Astros lineup
Developing: We're live from Kissimmee, where the Rays are making their second longest-trip of the spring to face the Astros.
RHP Wade Davis will start, likely getting stretched out to around 90 pitches, saying he's feeling a lot better than his last start, when he gave up eight runs and nine hits against the Twins that followed a bout with the flu.
Manny Ramirez had originally asked to make the trip, with manager Joe Maddon complying at first, before deciding yesterday that the slugger had played so many games already, and wanted to take it easy.
LF Johnny Damon and RHP Kyle Farnsworth, who both live near Orlando, made the trip. Farnsworth, who hyperextended his left knee Monday, will pitch in the first of back-to-back appearances.
E Johnson 2b