ST. PETERSBURG — With the Rays officially releasing 1B James Loney on Sunday, replacement Logan Morrison was going to be a bit in the spotlight anyway.
That he made a costly error, had a couple of other fielding issues and was involved in a shouting match with Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman made for an even more interesting Rays debut.
"A forgettable one," Morrison said.
Morrison had a liner deflect off his glove in the second inning, but 2B Logan Forsythe made the play anyway. A similar play happened in the fourth, leading to a Toronto run. Rays manager Kevin Cash said it looked as if Morrison had trouble seeing the ball coming out of the crowd. Morrison said he had no clue what happened.
"I don't even know," he said. "I'm trying to find out."
The confrontation with Stroman came as Morrison was headed toward the dugout after flying out in the fifth.
"I just heard him yell something and caught him looking at me, so I thought he was talking to me," Morrison said. "He said he wasn't talking to me. It was my first time facing him and I forgot he did that whole 'yell at himself' thing, so maybe he was doing that, I don't know."
Stroman said that was what happened. "Maybe he thought I was yelling at him, I was yelling at myself," he said. "'I'm a big self-motivation guy. Petty much I'm sure it was a miscommunication."
ONLY THE LONEY: Having tried unsuccessfully all spring to trade Loney after the acquisitions of Morrison, Steve Pearce and Corey Dickerson left him without a position, the Rays ended up releasing Loney as they submitted their roster. They are responsible for his $8 million salary, except for what he gets if he signs elsewhere, which would be for the $507,500 minimum.
"It's a difficult decision — they're all difficult. Especially for a guy who did a lot of good things for this organization over the last couple of years," Cash said.
KK'S ASSUMPTION: CF Kevin Kiermaier was down about his fourth-inning baserunning mistake, when with the Rays down 3-1 he tried to steal third with two outs and got caught.
In short, Kiermaier said he thought from the way 3B Josh Donaldson was playing off the base with lefty Hank Conger up that the Jays were giving him the base. Instead, they adjusted. Worse, it was on ball four, so Forsythe would have been up with two on.
"Terrible baserunning move on my part," Kiermaier said. "Very embarrassing. I know the game better than that. I assumed they were going to let me have the bag. Didn't happen."
Kiermaier was involved in a more entertaining play in the second when he stopped short of first then showed some good Twister moves in getting his right foot on the base. He was called safe initially then out on replay review. "It would have been pretty cool to be safe right there, but I don't have those long legs," he said.
MISCELLANY: The 16 strikeouts by Rays pitchers tied the 2005 Mets' MLB record for a nine-inning game on opening day. … Dickerson became the first player to homer on opening day in his Rays debut since Eric Hinske in 2008. … RHP Alex Cobb has resumed playing catch and is a week away from getting to the next stage in his Tommy John rehab and starting to throw off a mound. … Cash had a suite full of relatives watching but said his second opening day was "a little bit" more comfortable.