Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Knuckleball class for Jays Arencibia

DUNEDIN — When R.A. Dickey heads to the World Baseball Classic, the biggest beneficiary might be his catcher.

The Blue Jays right-hander, who allowed three runs in the first inning before settling down in an 11-6 victory over the Phillies on Saturday, leaves today to join the U.S. team. He'll be accompanied by new batterymate J.P. Arencibia.

"It's huge," Arencibia said of the opportunity to become more familiar with Dickey and his knuckleball. "It's tough to leave because there's still other guys that I would love to work with, but it also is good to be able to go out there and play with him and get to know him better."

Shortly after the pair return to camp, they will learn who will work behind the plate when Dickey begins to deliver his knuckler in the regular season.

"It's an awful tough pitch," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "When the games start counting and that guy's sitting in scoring position on third base, you don't want that ball going back to the screen."

Arencibia wants the role, but Gibbons gives the edge to Josh Thole and Henry Blanco as former teammates of Dickey's with the Mets.

Phillies: No worries

DUNEDIN — The poor weather didn't agree with Cliff Lee. The Phillies lefty isn't panicking.

Lee, who won the 2008 AL Cy Young Award with the Indians, gave up two first-inning runs to the Blue Jays on doubles by Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera and a single by Edwin Encarnacion. Emilio Boni­facio tied it at 3 in the second with a solo home run.

"I missed up in the zone a few times, obviously, with the wind," Lee said. "Physically, I feel great. It's just a matter of honing it in a little better."

GOOD RIDDANCE: Phillies 1B Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer off the Blue Jays' Dickey in the first inning. Still, Howard's pleased the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner was dealt from the NL East rival Mets. "I'll let the AL East go ahead and deal with him over there," Ryan said, grinning.

Yankees: Nova stellar

TAMPA — Pitching coach Larry Rothschild hinted in early February that RHP Ivan Nova had the inside track on the fifth starter's job, but Joe Girardi hinted at nothing.

"He has to go out and prove himself," the manager said.

After watching his primary competition, RHP David Phelps, record two impressive exhibition starts, Nova finally got his chance to make an impression Saturday.

It was a good one.

Nova, 26, allowed one hit and struck out one in two innings and looked sharp in a 10-3 victory over the Tigers. Nova threw 27 pitches, 22 for strikes.

Girardi said Nova's fastball, which topped out at 94 mph, stood out. "I thought his fastball command was really good," he said. "Pleased with where he was at his first start. He needs to build on that."

Nova's best pitch of the day might have been the looping 81-mph curveball for a called third strike that he threw to Kevin Russo to lead off the second. "A really good day," C Chris Stewart said.

INJURY REPORT: LHP Andy Pettitte is scheduled for his first simulated game today, in Tampa. Closer Mariano Rivera, coming off knee surgery, will take part in his second simulated game. RHP Phil Hughes will throw for the first time in two weeks since being sidelined by a bulging disc in his upper back.

Comments
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

ST. PETERSBURG — In the end, Alex Colome got the three outs to save the game, the day and the stomach linings of his bosses from further deterioration, so in theory that should be what mattered most Wednesday.And the fact that he was smiling in...
Published: 04/18/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Alex Colome's ninth-inning dramatics took the focus, but the work of newly corn-rowed RHP Chaz Roe in the seventh (three Ks) and LHP Jose Alvarado (one K, two infield outs) was textbook, and showed how the bullpen can work.RELATED: Whew. Alex Colome ...
Published: 04/18/18
Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

ST. PETERSBURG — Even before they lost several of the hitters they were relying most on to injuries, the Rays did not exactly have a lineup built on intimidation.Their own owner said opening day that he expected them to rank among the least pro...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays coach Rocco Baldelli was all smiles Wednesday morning, happy to play a role through social media in reuniting a lost dog and its owner."I feel really good about how this worked out," Baldelli said.REUNITED! Thank you everyone for spreading the w...
Published: 04/18/18
For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

UPDATE, 12:01: Cash said Brad Miller (groin) got through his rehab game with the Stone Crabs well last night playing first and will play second tonight, with the likely plan to be off Thursday and rejoin the Rays Friday. … With 3B Matt Duffy on...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

ST. PETERSBURG — For three outings, rookie Yonny Chirinos had been stellar in making a case to join the Rays' starting rotation, not allowing a single run in the first 141/3 innings of his major-league career.That perfection came to an inevitab...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Duffy is back on the disabled list.The Rays third baseman, who missed all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday after leaving Monday's game in the first inning with t...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Yonny Chirinos may still be an answer as the Rays look to fill out their rotation. He probably stayed in a little too long Tuesday, trailing 2-1 entering the fifth but giving up four runs the rest of the way. Bad starts caught up to him in the first,...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where another day brings another round of injury-related transactions for the Rays.Third baseman Matt Duffy, who left Monday's game with tightness in his right hamstring, has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, ta...
Published: 04/17/18