Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Jayson Nix impresses Maddon in Rays camp

PORT CHARLOTTE — Jayson Nix spent the past three seasons in the American League East, so Rays manager Joe Maddon was very familiar with the versatile infielder.

And Maddon liked what he saw from Nix — who played for the Blue Jays in 2011 and the Yankees 2012-13 — calling him a solid pro who "does good work wherever they had put him."

With Nix in camp on a minor-league deal and hoping to earn a bench spot, Maddon's observations have been reinforced.

"This guy is an uber professional," Maddon said. "That's all he's about. He just wants to play the game, play it right, be part of a group and understand what the overall philosophy is. I've known him for a week, I feel like I've known him for the last 10 years. Any manager, any organization would love to have him within the group. He is that guy."

Nix, 31, who has played for five teams over parts of six big-league seasons, said he has heard great things about Maddon and the Rays clubhouse. He has experience at shortstop, second base and third and is hoping he can stay in the mix for a roster spot.

"Seeing them from the other side, the way Joe uses the bench and uses everybody and moves guys around, obviously that's something I've been doing for a while," Nix said. "I'm comfortable doing so, so it fits well."

CATCHING ON: Maddon held an onfield meeting during Wednesday's workout to brief position players on the nuances of the new rules regarding collisions at home plate. In general, the team's philosophy won't change much. "I want to keep it simple right now," Maddon said.

FOR STARTERS: The Rays switched back to their original plan of having LHP Erik Bedard start Friday's exhibition opener. Bedard, competing for the fifth rotation spot, will face his former team, the Orioles.

BACK ON TRACK: 2B Ben Zobrist took onfield batting practice for the first time since being sidelined last week with back soreness and said he felt good. He also fielded grounders and said he expects to run the bases by this weekend. Maddon said Zobrist will probably play his first game early next week.

STAYING READY: RHP Juan Sandoval, who had been stuck in the Dominican Republic due to visa issues, flew into the country Wednesday and is expected to be at camp today. RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo and INF Wilson Betemit are still delayed, though Maddon heard they've been working out regularly. That's especially important for Oviedo, who is slated to be part of the bullpen and spent last year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. "Obviously guys aren't going to be negligent right now with a chance of making the club," Maddon said. "They want to come here ready, and Oviedo has put in all this time."

GOOD CAUSE: The team will hold its annual charity golf tournament today at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Bradenton, with all members of the 40-man roster and coaching staff expected to attend. Proceeds benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Published: 06/21/18
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Published: 06/20/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Published: 06/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Published: 06/20/18
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Published: 06/20/18
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

This is how odd LHP Blake Snell's night was — he became the first pitcher to work seven or more innings and walk at least seven since Edwin Jackson threw his 149-pitch, eight-walk no-hitter at the Rays on June 25, 2010.If you weren't aware of t...
Published: 06/19/18