Spring game report: Rays vs. Yankees
Update Rays win 3-1 over the Yankees in front of a sold-out crowd at Charlotte Sports Park.
Manager Joe Maddon was pleased with how RHP Jeremy Hellickson commanded his pitches in throwing four scoreless innings, and said he's on pace to be stretched out enough to be at full-go when season starts.
*Maddon admitted he was "really concerned' when he saw RHP Kyle Farnsworth favoring his left knee in the fifth inning. Farnsworth said he thought he hyperextended it, and felt okay afterwards, encouraged there was no swelling. "Good thing it wasn't serious," he said.
*Maddon liked how C Kelly Shoppach hit a homer off a righthanded pitcher (Bartolo Colon) and Dan Johnson hit a homer off a lefty.
Update 9:08 p.m Kelly Shoppach hits a solo homer in the sixth and Dan Johnson add one of his own in the seventh as the Rays take a 2-1 lead.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he felt really good in his outing, saying his hamstring was fine and the blister on his right ring finger wasn't an issue. He felt his curveball and the rest of his pitches worked well in his 48-pitch outing.
Update 8:33 p.m The Yankees scratch a run off RHP Juan Cruz in the sixth when 2B Sean Rodriguez dropped the ball trying to turn an inning-ending double play.
THe Rays have been very quiet offensively, getting just one baserunner so far against RHP Bartolo Colon.
Update 8:15 p.m Scary moment here in the fifth for the Rays as RHP Kyle Farnsworth - expected to be a key cog in the revamped bullpen - appeared to hurt himself while racing to his left to field a bunt.
Farnsworth stopped by the first base line after recording the out and bent over, laboring what appeared to be an upper-leg issue. Manager Joe Maddon and the training staff came out, and after some consultation, Farnsworth took the mound and did a few warm-up pitches before staying in the game.
He finished the scoreless inning.
Update 8:02 p.m Hellickson has now thrown four scoreless innings, with the defense continuing to play strong behind him. Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac turned a nice double play to end the fourth. Still scoreless.
Hellickson's day is done, having scattered three hits, striking out two and walking one. He threw 48 pitches, with 31 strikes.
Update 7:51 p.m Jeremy Hellickson stranded a runner on third in the third inning, thanks to a spectacular catch by CF B.J. Upton. Upton robbed Derek Jeter of extra bases by racing to the warning track for an over-the-shoulder grab, one Rays fans have seen so often.
Hellickson has allowed just three hits over three innings so far. But the Rays haven't been able to get to Bartolo Colon, who is a candidate to fill one of the final two spots of the Yankees rotation.
Update 7:30 p.m The Rays also strand a runner on second in the first as Johnny Damon hits a single and advances to second on a wild throw, but Bartolo Colon strikes out Evan Longoria and gets Dan Johnson to fly out.
Update 7:16 p.m. RHP Jeremy Hellickson, starting against the Yankees, allows a single in the first inning to Derek Jeter, but strands him at second base in getting Alex Rodriguez to hit an inning-ending popout.
Update 5:01 p.mManager Joe Maddon said OF Matt Joyce should be able to return to play tommorrow against the Red Sox, he was just held out today with the mid-back tightness.
*Maddon said C John Jaso, struck in the groin area with a foul tip Saturday, will still be out 3-4 days, returning later this week, Wed-Thur or Thur-Friday. "He's doing better," Maddon said. "It's going to be a slow process in a sense, however, to be totally well, but he's going to be able to play hopefully within three four days. Everything is coming along well."
*With the 2-3-4 part of the lineup set up pretty well with Johnny Damon, Evan Longoria and Manny Ramirez, Maddon is considering a few things for the 5-6-7, with some possibilities Dan Johnson-B.J. Upton-Matt Joyce, or Joyce-Upton-Johnson. Maddon said C Kelly Shoppach has the kind of power that could permit him to hit in those spots against left-handers.
*Maddon was asked if he considered batting Ben Zobrist leadoff from the right side as well as the left, and he hasn't necessarily ruled it out, though he's still liking the Zobrist against righties and Upton against lefties.
Update 3:38 p.m The Yankees are bringing several of their top players, with SS Derek Jeter, 3B Alex Rodriguez and 2B Robinson Cano all on the trip to Port Charlotte.
Update 3:11 p.m. Joyce said he had some mild back tightness, and the Rays just wanted to keep him out as a precaution. He said he could have played today, and it's a "really minor" thing, but they wanted to be smart and not allow it to be a lingering issue. Joyce said he fully expects to play tommorrow in Fort Myers against the Red Sox.
Update 3:01 p.m. DH Matt Joyce was scratched from the lineup, with it sounding like it is due to back tightness. Casey Kotchman was inserted to take his place.
Dan Johnson 1b
The Rays are back in Port Charlotte for a night game with the Yankees, the first of back-to-back night games against AL East rivals (they play the Red Sox in Fort Myers Tuesday).
RHP Jeremy Hellickson will make the start for the Rays, with several regulars in the lineup, including Evan Longoria and LF Johnny Damon. Some of the Rays new bullpen arms, RHP Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta will make appearances. The Rays will face Yankees rotation candidate, veteran Bartolo Colon.
Dan Johnson 1b