PORT CHARLOTTE — RHP Chris Archer tuned up for his opening day in a Tuesday intrasquad game with four innings, 63 pitches and one big scare.
A line drive off the bat of C Rene Rivera knocked Archer down but not out as it deflected first off his glove then his right hip.
"In my mind, I was fine. I wasn't worried," Archer said. "But given the circumstance five days before the season starts, I think people were a little nervous. I knew because I'd been hit a lot, it didn't get me square, and it didn't get me in a spot where I would have to come out."
Manager Kevin Cash was among those watching whose heart skipped a beat. "I think everybody's did a little bit," Cash said. "That's the last thing you want to have happen five days before opening day."
The Rays didn't want Archer to pitch in their scheduled game in Dunedin since he will face the Blue Jays for real Sunday. He was supposed to go to Fort Myers to pitch in a 1 p.m. Triple-A game against the Twins, but a forecast for afternoon rain changed that plan. Instead he got a 7 a.m. wakeup call from Cash telling him he would be pitching at 11 a.m. on a back field in Port Charlotte against his teammates.
He allowed six hits, including two to SS Brad Miller.
"I'm actually pretty happy about staying here and facing the competition that I faced, our big-league hitters," he said.
Archer pitched in only three big-league exhibitions, last on March 14. He threw in the batting cage after his March 19 start was rained out after six pitches and faced the Twins' Triple-A team March 24 and his own mates Tuesday. He said Tuesday that won't have an impact on how he starts the season, and Cash agreed.
LONGO RESTED: 3B Evan Longoria was scratched from the Dunedin lineup and was in Port Charlotte but didn't play in Archer's game. Cash said there is "nothing wrong" with Longoria and that he just wanted extra rest in advance of the season and could sit out again today.
ROSTER UPDATE: With three pitchers headed to the DL, the Rays have to cut seven others by Sunday. There could be some clarity today, as it is the deadline to release players with nonguaranteed contracts, such as Cs Hank Conger or Rivera, and have to pay them only one-fourth of their salary, though the Rays are considering carrying all three catchers.
ANDRIESE ABBREVIATED: Despite heavy rain in Dunedin washing out his fourth spring outing after two innings, RHP Matt Andriese was still pleased with his performance, allowing one hit — a single by reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson.
During the delay, Andriese, competing for a long relief spot, threw two additional simulated innings — about 30-35 pitches — in the covered bullpen. "I felt good," he said. "I was out there attacking the zone and just trying to be aggressive. It's kind of tough when you know the rain is coming, so you're just trying to make it quick. But I got my work in and I'll go from there."
GAME DETAILS: The Rays (11-11-1) led the Blue Jays 1-0 before the game was called. … 2B Logan Forsythe led off with a towering drive to rightfield on the second pitch from Toronto RHP Arnold Leon. … LF Desmond Jennings made a solid defensive play to end the second, fighting through the rain to rob Michael Saunders of a hit with a leaping grab in front of the wall.
MISCELLANY: RHP Erasmo Ramirez was to make his first official relief appearance. He will instead work an inning in today's game against the Red Sox. … Bench coach Tom Foley managed the Dunedin squad. … The Charlotte County Family YMCA and the Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity will be recognized during an onfield ceremony before the game. Each organization will receive a $5,000 donation from the Rays Baseball Foundation.
Times correspondent Jeff Odom contributed to this report.