Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Knuckleball class for Jays Arencibia

RECOMMENDED READING


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
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17
As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

Presuming Alex Cobb declines the Rays’ one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. today, he has pitched his last game for Tampa Bay.Cobb has received preliminary interest from "lots of teams" already, agent Dan Horwits said. The Cubs and Twin...
Published: 11/16/17
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made clear Thursday that identification of a site for a new Rays stadium is merely the first step for area leaders to show they want to keep the team long-term and that there needs to "consistent forward movement" on the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Wednesday that the team is "genuinely excited" about the proposed Ybor City site for a new stadium and more than "cautiously optimistic" the project can be completed. But ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Rays journal: No big deals at GM meetings, but possible groundwork laid

By MARC TOPKINLAKE BUENA VISTA — Rays officials left the GM meetings without making any big deals — such as trading Alex Colome or Chris Archer to the Cardinals — but more knowledgeable about the possibilities. "Expectations were to utilize these few...
Published: 11/15/17