Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Matt Moore impressing early in Rays camp

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PORT CHARLOTTE — One of the early positives this spring has been the strong showing by LHP Matt Moore, who looks as strong and sharp as how he ended the season.

"I don't really see anything drastically different," manager Kevin Cash said. "If he maintains that type of stuff and command, he's going to have a good year."

Moore has been sharp and healthy in bullpen sessions and took it into a live batting practice session Saturday, breaking OF Mikie Mahtook's bat in the process.

"He threw the ball really well," Cash said. "I just think we're excited to see him out there. That's a huge piece that wasn't there last spring."

After a rough initial return from Tommy John elbow surgery in July, Moore went back to Triple A then returned to finish strong, including a 2-0 record and 1.35 ERA in his last four starts.

PITCHING IN: RHP Jake Odorizzi is in line to start Wednesday's exhibition opener against the Nationals. It's hard to read much into that since the Rays have three off days and a planned trip to Cuba during the spring, but on a five-day schedule he would be lined up to pitch third in the rotation, presumably behind RHP Chris Archer and either Moore or LHP Drew Smyly.

Odorizzi felt good throwing his first live batting practice session Saturday, even at an unusually early time due to the abbreviated workout. "My arm felt lively for 9:05, honestly," he said. "I was kind of surprised at how fresh I felt that early."

FAMILIAR FACES: Saturday's Fan Fest was a hit, with an estimated crowd of 16,000 and nearly $80,000 raised for charity.

Though Archer, CF Kevin Kiermaier and 3B Evan Longoria were the bigger draws, nonroster RHP Ryan Garton, who grew up in North Pinellas and the Trinity area, had his own fan "club" of youth league pals and classmates from Mitchell High. Garton, 26, has worked his way up to Double-A Montgomery since being a 34th-round pick in 2012.

MISCELLANY: There is still no set date for OF Steven Souza Jr. (intercostal strain) to return. … Cash said having the Fan Fest during full-squad workouts "puts a little wrinkle in the day, but that's okay — we'll adjust to help the good people at the ballpark."

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