Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays 1B Logan Morrison hopes return to basics sparks bat

NEW YORK — Coming off a rough season in Seattle and coming into spring training with his new Rays team, 1B Logan Morrison made some changes to his batting stance.

But what felt good in March with a higher leg kick, narrower spacing of his feet and different positioning of his hands turned into an April mess, evidenced by a 2-for-40 start with 17 strikeouts.

So Morrison decided over the past few days to scrap the changes, and when he returns to the lineup today — possibly dropped from second in the order — he will look more like his old self. And, he hopes, hit that way, too.

"You keep beating your head against the wall and nothing happens, it's kind of the definition of insanity, right?" Morrison said. "(So) try to make an adjustment, simplify things, help me stay behind the baseball and get the barrel to it. If I can get the barrel to the ball, there's damage. I'm not really worried about average or anything like that."

Morrison insisted he was not concerned about his extended slump.

"Obviously coming to a new team you want to do well," he said. "But if this was in June and July, I've had a bunch of these in my career. Obviously, looking to get out of it."

But later he acknowledged how much it bothered him.

"As much as people want me to hit, there's nobody who wants me to hit more," Morrison said. "It's been every emotion from embarrassing to frustrating to, I don't know, what else?"

The high number of strikeouts are Morrison's biggest concern, leaving him with what he feels are "not competitive at-bats."

He feels he is close to a breakthrough. "I'll be there when they need me," he said. "I'm not worried about it."

Birthday bench: Rays manager Kevin Cash chose Friday to give CF Kevin Kiermaier a day off against Yankees lefty starter CC Sabathia without knowing he put a damper on Kiermaier's 26th birthday.

"You hate to give him a day off because he does so much to the lineup and obviously his defense speaks for itself," Cash said. "But we have to be smart. We are going to ask for KK to be out there quite a bit, and today just made a lot of sense. … I'm not saying KK can't play all the time. But the way KK goes about it and as aggressive as he is, he runs every ball out 100 miles an hour, he tracks everything down. It's okay to give him a day off every once in a while."

Tourist time: OF/DH Corey Dickerson, acquired from the Rockies, was eager to play for the first time in the Bronx. "It's definitely exciting to be in Yankee Stadium for the first time," he said. "It's a pretty remarkable stadium. Just the history across the street, being able to play in Yankee Stadium after watching them as a kid is pretty cool."

Medical matters: The Rays lost some outfield depth temporarily as Mikie Mahtook was placed on the Triple-A Durham DL with a strain in the lat/oblique area, though they feel it is not severe. … RHPs Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley threw off the mound again in St. Petersburg, continuing their rehab from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Miscellany: OF Brandon Guyer on Thursday became just the third player in modern history to be hit by pitches three times in multiple games, joining Reed Johnson and Damion Easley. … Thursday marked the fifth time this season the Rays scored the winning run in the eighth inning or later.

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