Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Moore plays down success

ST. PETERSBURG — As many accolades as LHP Matt Moore has earned with his historic start to the season, he has shrugged off his role as well as he has shut down opponents.

With a win tonight, Moore becomes the second-youngest lefty since Babe Ruth in 1916 to begin the season 9-0 exclusively as a starter. But Moore prefers to talk about how well the team plays on the days he pitches, including a run support (6.7 per nine innings) that's ninth in the majors.

The Yankees, however, aren't shy in praising Moore.

"He's the real deal," 1B Lyle Overbay said.

Rays manager Joe Maddon likes Moore's approach, saying his accountability has been "fantastic."

"Talking about yourself is not going to help you get guys out," Maddon said. "And he knows it. I like the way he's handling it.

"He'll be able to talk about it when the season is over."

Stadium talk: Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn said Friday he believes the Rays stadium stalemate "has gone on long enough," admitting the waiting game has been tough because he's "not a patient guy."

But Buckhorn has been encouraged because there seems to be a growing sense of urgency and more discussions between St. Petersburg and the Rays.

"I get a sense that, perhaps over the summer, there may be some movement," Buckhorn said after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. "I don't know what it'll be. But I think everyone recognizes that the status quo is not an answer."

Buckhorn made it clear he's not going to "get in the middle," saying he respects the position St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is in. Foster has said they've been trying to find a "middle ground" with the Rays, who have a lease until 2027 but want to explore potential sites outside of the city.

Buckhorn said if the Rays are allowed to look elsewhere, "we'll be ready."

"We don't want to lose them," Buckhorn said. "This is our team. This isn't Charlotte's team. This is not Las Vegas' team, and this team deserves the best efforts to find a way to make sure that they stay."

FAMILIAR FACE: Yankees INF Reid Brignac admitted it was a "little different" to walk past the Rays' home clubhouse Friday afternoon and head to the visitors' side.

But Brignac, 27, a Ray from 2008-12, was very pleased to be acquired by the Yankees last week after getting designated for assignment by the Rockies. Tampa Bay traded him to Colorado in February, but he batted just .250 in 29 games.

"For them to trade for me, it meant a lot to me," Brignac said. "Hopefully, I can start getting some hits. It has been an up-and-down emotional level; a lot of uncertainty, too. I'm just happy to be part of this club and with this team."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Manager Joe Maddon said there's "nothing new to report" on the rehab of LHP David Price (left triceps strain), who was expected to miss 2-3 starts. Maddon has said it will likely be on the latter end of that time line but there's no "finish line" yet.

RHP Brandon Gomes (lat strain) still appears several weeks away from returning. Gomes, put on the DL on May 10, said he hopes to start throwing in the next week or so.

"There's a big difference in the first week and now," Gomes said. "We're just kind of inching along every day. We're just going to take it so that when I come back, I'm ready to go and there's no setbacks."

IN CLOSING: Maddon reiterated even though RHP Fernando Rodney has struggled, with a 5.40 ERA and four blown saves, he hasn't considered removing him as closer.

"It's not like he's been awful," Maddon said. "It's so close between feeling really good about himself and not feeling good about himself."

MISCELLANY: CF Desmond Jennings was given a day off. … OF Matt Joyce returned, batting leadoff, saying his hamstring felt fine. … LHP Cesar Ramos called RHP Jamey Wright, who gave up one run in three innings of relief, the "hero." … The Rays observed a moment of silence before Friday's game to honor those affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes.

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