Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Archer gets in work after rain cancels game

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PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays RHP Chris Archer's start Saturday was cut short — extremely short — with heavy rains stopping Tampa Bay's spring training game with the Orioles after just two outs and six pitches.

The game was cancelled just 10 minutes after the initial delay, and to stay on schedule Archer went to the batting cages and threw about 90 pitches with C Curt Casali, with OF Steven Souza Jr. standing in as a batter.

"Obviously not the most ideal situation with the rain, but Arch handled it really well," manager Kevin Cash said of the 90-minute postgame workout. "We tried to simulate as much game as possible, and he threw the ball really well. There was a lot of intensity, him and Casali. What was really productive is they had an opportunity to talk through some things that maybe you're not able to do midgame."

Archer, who opened the game with a pop fly to center then got a three-pitch strikeout, has two more spring starts before the Rays' April 3 opener at home against Toronto. Cash said he'll be capped at seven innings or 105 pitches in his next outing Thursday, tapering off in his final spring outing.

"The effort and the intensity was the exact same," Archer said of his staying on course for the season opener. "Mentally, I put myself in certain situations I'm going to have during the season. … Anytime you can have a little adversity and you do well, it's a positive sign."

Three relievers scheduled to throw — RHPs Andrew Bellatti, Ryan Webb and Alex Colome — all threw in intrasquad games to stay on schedule.

TRANSACTIONS: The Rays continued to pare their roster down, with seven players leaving Saturday to leave 43 with two weeks until opening day.

The Rays optioned INF Nick Franklin and C Luke Maile and reassigned five players to minor-league camp: RHPs Neil Wagner, Parker Markel and Ryan Garton, LHP Jonny Venters and 1B Kyle Roller.

Franklin, who hit .375 in 24 spring at-bats, will still travel with the Rays to Cuba after today's game.

CLEARED: The Rays got final permission Saturday for Cuban-born OF Dayron Varona to make the trip into and out of Cuba with the team.

"I loved seeing the expression on his face when we told him he was able to go," travel director Chris Westmoreland said.

Varona's unexpected opportunity to play again in his home country has been one of the most touching storylines for next week's trip to Havana.

But the Rays didn't know until Saturday morning there was final approval from the Cuban government that Varona, who defected in 2013, will be allowed into and — more importantly — out of the country.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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