Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Grant Balfour is no longer the Rays' closer

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon rarely designates someone as a closer but made a rare exception this offseason, anointing free agent signee Grant Balfour with that role.

Maddon abandoned that approach Monday, a day after Balfour allowed five runs in the ninth inning of a 5-0 loss to Seattle, reverting to a closer-by-committee plan.

"Something's not clicking right now," Maddon said.

Balfour's sputter against Seattle was the second time he allowed five runs in one inning this season. He blew his first of two saves this season at Chicago, giving up a walkoff grand slam in a 9-6 loss. Before that, he had never allowed a five-run inning in his career.

Balfour (0-2, 6.46 ERA) said Sunday's result was especially frustrating because his pitches felt good. He was one pitch from striking out the side but instead surrendered four hits and two walks.

"It's that close from being a non-issue," Balfour said.

Balfour has thrown fastballs on only 55.4 percent of his pitches this year, the lowest number of his career. Maddon said he has discussed that issue with Balfour and that he believes the pitch is still effective, though his velocity is down.

Maddon said he wants to give Balfour fewer pressure-packed situations so he can regain his confidence. In the meantime, Maddon plans to choose his relievers based on matchups and personnel instead of predefined roles.

"We've got a lot of guys with really good stuff," Maddon said. "I'm just looking to get the last out for the win. That's it."

Cards talk: RHP Jake Odorizzi is from Highland, Ill., about 35 miles east of St. Louis, and grew up rooting for the Cardinals. He went to games at the old and new Busch Stadium, watching players like today's starter, RHP Adam Wainwright, so he'll savor the chance to play against one of his childhood role models.

"It'll be pretty special, to be honest," Odorizzi said. "He's a guy you want to model yourself after when you're a young pitcher. He's one of the guys I watched growing up."

Wainwright, a two-time All-Star, is eighth in the majors with a 2.31 ERA and is averaging less than one base runner per inning.

Medical matters: OF Brandon Guyer had his cast removed Monday morning, and X-rays revealed that the fracture in his left thumb had healed.

"It's definitely a lot better than I thought it would be," Guyer said.

Guyer played catch and took a few swings and could progress to hitting coaches' pitches in a day or two with the hopes of returning in mid-June.

C Ryan Hanigan (hamstring) was 0-for-3 with a walk in a rehab start for Class A Charlotte. He could return to the Rays as soon as Wednesday.

Offensive woes: The Rays' nine shutouts are most in the AL and second-most in the majors. They were shut out eight times all of last season.

They were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since August 2012 against the Orioles. The Rays' stretch of 35 runs in 14 games is the club's worst since April 14-30, 2004.

Miscellany: RHP Alex Cobb has partnered with isoBLOX, a company that makes protective sports gear. He missed two months last year after being hit in the head with a line drive. … The Rays announced a minimalist theme for their road trip to Houston. … RHP Josh Lueke cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Durham. … Former Ray Fernando Rodney earned back-to-back saves against his former team and retired all six batters he faced. … LHP David Price took the AL lead with 111 strikeouts.

Comments

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Published: 05/25/18
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Published: 05/25/18
Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

RHP Alex Cobb has already pitched twice against his former Rays mates in Baltimore and said it didn't feel that weird, especially since there were so many new faces in the lineup.But coming back to the Trop, where he made his big-league debut and spe...
Published: 05/25/18
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Published: 05/24/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Published: 05/24/18