Spring game report: Rays vs. Pirates
Update, 4:51 The Rays lose 8-7 to the Pirates, snapping their four-game losing streak.
Update, 4:29: The Pirates rally off RHP Adam Russell in the ninth, and score once to pull ahead 8-7.
Update, 3:36: The Rays mounted a nice comeback in the sixth, scoring four runs to pull within 7-6. But Russ Canzler got thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a Mayora single, and the Pirates one-run lead still stands.
Update, 3:29: RHP Jeremy Hellickson was happy with how he felt and threw in his spring debut went, saying his goal in his first spring inning was to throw strikes. And in retiring the side in order (with one strikeout), he did just that.
Hellickson, who had been sidelined earlier in camp with hamstring tightness, was excited to finally get a chance to pitch in a game.
"I was very anxious,' he said. "It's been a long time. Just getting out and throwing to other opponents, I was really happy to get out there and I was happy with how it went."
Hellickson, who threw 10 pitches in the game and 15 in the bullpen afterwards, said his next outing will likely be Tuesday against the Marlins. He's excited for having a spot in the rotation, and though he hopes to have the same type of success he had in several starts late last season, he points out he's not going to replace traded RHP Matt Garza.
"I'm not going to step in and do what Garza's done the last few years,' he said. "But I guess it's nice to know they have confidence in me."
Update, 3:11: Kyle Farnsworth just gave up a two-run to John Bowker and the Pirates lead is now 7-2. That ninth-inning comeback doesn't seem too likely right now.
Update 2:51 p.m RHP Jeremy Hellickson breezed through his spring debut, retiring the Pirates in order in the fifth on 10 pitches, including a strikeout.
Update 2:45 p.m 1B Casey Kotchman, making a bid to make the team as a non-roster invitee, came up with an RBI single in the third, and then stole second. Kotchman had the game-tying double in Thursday's walk-off win.
Sean Rodriguez has had a good day at the plate, reaching base three times (including a double). Manny Ramirez has hit the ball hard twice on long fly balls, but is 0-for-3.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson is on the mound to start the fifth, making his spring debut.
Update 2:27 p.m. RHP Wade Davis is done for the day, having allowed four runs on seven hits over three innings.
Davis wasn't hit extremely hard, with a few bloopers, but the Pirates did their share of damage. But he didn't have his best command, throwing just 28 of 57 pitches for strikes, walking two and making a throwing error.
Update 1:57 p.m The Rays get a run back in the second, with Felipe Lopez leading off with a walk, and moving to third when an Elliot Johnson grounder to short (and potential double play ball) was misplayed. OF Desmond Jennings picked up an RBI with an infield single. Manny Ramirez came up with two on and two out, but his hard line drive to rightfield was caught.
Update 1:41 p.m RHP Wade Davis got into some trouble here in the second, giving up three runs. He gave up two singles to start off, including a blooper to center, and committed an error trying to pick off a runner at second.
Davis gave up two RBI singles, one a broken bat blooper to right, and has now allowed seven hits so far over two innings. He's not getting hit especially hard, but the Pirates are finding holes, and Davis hasn't helped himself, walking the pitcher.
Pirates 4, Rays 0
Update 1:29 p.m. DH Manny Ramirez leads off the first inning - a rare appearance in the top spot - and grounds out to third, and other than a hit by Sean Rodriguez, the Rays are retired quietly.
Update 1:13 p.m RHP Wade Davis has an interesting first inning in his start, giving up a leadoff single before picking off Jose Tobata at first base.
Andrew McCutchen reached on an infield single, with SS Elliot Johnson misplaying a ground ball in the hole at short. McCutchen moved to second on a balk. And McCutchen scored when a potential inning-ending popup by Pedro Alvarez fell between Felipe Lopez and Johnson in shallow left. Lopez appeared to call for it, but it fell in, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
Update 10:26 a.m Manager Joe Maddon had some sad news to report to open his pre-game media session, saying that his father-in-law, Ted Sousoures, died in southern California last night of heart failure.
He said he spoke with his wife, Jaye, this morning, and she's doing okay, with a large support system of five siblings there, so he may not leave the team (at least at this point). The timeline for the services are still up in the air. "Tough guy, great guy," Maddon said. "It's just unfortunate."
*As far as the game goes, Maddon said he's looking forward to seeing RHP Jeremy Hellickson make his debut. Maddon said Hellickson has looked good with all his pitches so far in live batting practice sessions, and he just wants to see him come out of it healthy and feeling good. They're confident he'll be able to start the season after having been sidelined with a hamstring injury earlier in camp.
*Maddon continued to praise RHP Matt Bush, the former 2004 top overall pick who is making a comeback with the Rays after having seen his career derailed by alcohol issues. Maddon said Bush has been a "model guy" off the field, and his impressive array of pitches, including a mid-90s fastball, has a lot of potential.
Bush lost about 25 pounds in the offseason, motivated after being put on the 40-man roster, and is relishing the opportunity. He threw another scoreless outing Thursday.
"He's got a nice look about him, he's very focused right now," Maddon said. "I believe he understands the opportunity that's staring him in the face right now, and he's trying to take advantage of it. He's done everything right."
*Maddon said while one of the new relievers could eventually emerge as the team's closer, as opposed to by committee, it won't happen by the end of spring training, as he'll want to see who is the most consistent during the season. While he'd like to have a set closer, he won't force it. RHPs Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta have been impressive so far, and pitch today.
Update 9:30 a.m. The clubhouse TVs were all tuned into the tragic news tory of the tsunami that hit Hawaii following an 8.9 earthquake in Japan, with Rays stunned by the new developments.
With warnings as far as Oregon and California, the story hit close to home for a few Rays with families out there. C John Jaso, for example, tried to reach his dad out near Crescent City, Calif, a Northern California town about 20 minutes from the Oregon border. He said he had to do tsunami warnings as a kid in school, as the area is especially vulnerable to the high waves due to it's positioning near sea level.
The Rays have just gone out for stretch, with the weather beautiful here - a stark contrast to the rainy morning we had here yesterday.
Update 9:15 a.m. Here's the Pirates lineup
Developing: The Rays wrap up their four-game "homestand" at Charlotte Sports Park by hosting the Pirates this afternoon.
Tampa Bay is coming off its fourth straight win (three straight by walkoff), and will have RHP Wade Davis on the mound to start the game. RHP Jeremy Hellickson, the fifth starter in the rotation, will make his spring game debut, throwing likely an inning after getting sidelined earlier in camp with a hamstring injury.
Some of the Rays new bullpen arms, RHP Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Adam Russell, will also make an appearance.
Manny Ramirez is scheduled to DH and lead off, so if you want to see him hit, get here early. Ramirez will be off Saturday and play Sunday in Dunedin.
-- JOE SMITH