Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Drew Smyly ready for All-Star break

ST. PETERSBURG — After another bad outing in Wednesday's 7-2 loss to the Angels, Rays LHP Drew Smyly appears to be the player most in need of the physical and mental respite of the upcoming All-Star break.

"Can't wait," Smyly said.

He and the Rays can only hope the time off helps. Smyly logged his ninth straight winless start and 10th loss, joining teammate Chris Archer as the only AL pitchers in double digits, 2-10, 5.47 overall.

As bad as Smyly's stat line looked, allowing seven runs (four earned) on eight hits with no strikeouts in four-plus innings, he did have his seemingly usual share of bad breaks, starting with the bases being loaded on two bloops and a ground-ball single, and a double play not being made, in a four-run third.

"I have to own it and take blame, but I feel like I'm making good-quality-type pitches," Smyly said.

Manager Kevin Cash, noting Smyly has been "snakebit,'' said they remain confident in him and hope the break helps. But they also extended RHP Matt Andriese to three innings Wednesday, which could be a sign he will soon be rejoining the rotation.

FRESH ARM: Having cycled through several pitchers without getting much relief, the Rays opted for a fresh choice, calling up RHP Dylan Floro.

A 13th-round draft pick in 2012, Floro worked his way to Triple A as a starter but was moved to the bullpen this season. He has adapted well, posting a 1-2 record and 2.81 ERA with seven saves.

"From what we've heard, he's a strike thrower, sinkerballer, gets the ball on the ground quite a bit," Cash said.

Floro got news of his promotion in memorable fashion from Durham manager Jared Sandberg, who announced it while they were on the field during a youth camp. (See the video at tampabay.com/blogs/rays.)

Veteran LHP Dana Eveland was designated for assignment for the second time in a month to make room. RHP Ryan Webb, who was paid $1 million, was released after clearing waivers. Also, they have interest in bringing back RHP Kevin Jepsen if he clears waivers after being DFA'd by the Twins.

LONGO VOTE: The Rays are trying various means, including T-shirts, social media hashtags and giveaways, to get fans to vote for 3B Evan Longoria in the race for the final spot on the AL All-Star team. In initial returns, he was last among the five finalists, with voting through Friday on mlb.com. Longoria, who won the final-man vote in 2008, said: "This is kind of the rallying cry for all those Rays fans we have out there, and hopefully they can show they are just as strong and vote me in."

Longoria is competing with 2B Ian Kinsler (Tigers), 2B Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), OF Michael Saunders (Blue Jays) and OF George Springer (Astros).

COBB UPDATE: RHP Alex Cobb felt good, which was more important than poor results in his first minor-league rehab start since Tommy John elbow surgery. He allowed two hits and two walks and didn't get out of the first inning for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte. Cobb, pitching in his first game since spring 2015, threw 21 pitches, eight for strikes, to the six batters he faced. He walked two of the first three, then with two outs allowed an RBI single and a double.

REHAB REPORT: OF Kevin Kiermaier (left hand fracture) took his first live swings, stepping in while RHPs Brad Boxberger (oblique strain) and Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) threw off the Tropicana Field mound. Kiermaier hopes to go on a rehab assignment next week and return in the July 15-17 series. "(Kiermaier) looks healthy," Cash said. "Now it's getting his timing under way."

MISCELLANY: C Curt Casali left after the sixth inning with a bruise on the left side of his head. Cash said Casali saw the doctor "and seems to be okay, he's a little beat up." … Team officials are finalizing the post-break rotation, Cash hinting that LHP Blake Snell might get pushed to the back end as they monitor his workload. … Snell said he was good with today's 12:10 p.m. start, figuring "a lot of the hitters aren't really awake and ready for it, so I've got to take advantage."

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