Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays callup Lueke seeks better results

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon could sense in spring training that RHP Josh Lueke was different.

Lueke, 28, was more mature, carried himself differently and pitched well, too, as he had one of the best camps among the relievers.

So when Lueke was called up Friday from Triple-A Durham, taking the place of injured RHP Brandon Gomes (right lat strain), Maddon saw a pitcher who felt like he "belonged."

And Lueke looked like it in an impressive Rays season debut, striking out two in a perfect 1 1/3-inning outing in the 6-3 win over the Padres.

"That was outstanding," Maddon said. "You can see he's different. He can be a force."

Lueke felt bad his good news came at the expense of his offseason workout partner, Gomes, who was put on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 8. Lueke arrived hoping to carry over the confidence he has had since the offseason, which resulted in a strong spring and going 2-0 with seven saves and a 0.95 ERA in 14 games for Durham, including two shutout innings on Thursday.

"I just feel like I belong here," Lueke said. "I can come in with the confidence, and I guess you can say swag, just knowing that I can pitch at this level. If I feel that way and I can go out there and prove it to everybody else, I guess I'll earn respect down the road."

Lueke, acquired from the Mariners in November 2011, made three appearances for Tampa Bay (18.90 ERA) over three short stints in 2012. Lueke said he changed his work ethic in the offseason, sparked by Gomes, who got him to start his offseason program earlier.

Lueke said Gomes and veteran Joel Peralta this spring encouraged him to "pitch backwards:" Keep hitters off his fastball by starting them with a slider or a split. That's what he did Friday, with his velocity reaching 96 mph.

"I'm just going to try to keep the same approach and positivity I've got going on right now," Lueke said.

FREAK THING: Gomes hopes he won't be out long. He had never been on the disabled list, nor has he missed a significant amount of time in his career. He said the lat strain was a freak injury that popped up last weekend in Colorado.

Gomes said he tried to pitch through it and get better through treatment, but while warming up during Thursday night's game against Toronto, he knew something had to be done.

"It's just painful every time I try to throw a ball," Gomes said. "It came to the point where it was going to start affecting stuff."

MEDICAL MATTERS: CF Desmond Jennings did not start Friday, and may not again tonight, because of a sore groin, Maddon said. "Nothing seriously wrong," Maddon said. "Playing on our turf a lot, you have to be real careful with him, all our speed guys, always trying to be vigilant." … C Jose Molina, who bruised his right knee on a foul tip Thursday, said he felt better Friday. Maddon said he was available to play.

PITCHING IN: Maddon said there has been no "common denominator" in RHP Jeremy Hellickson's inconsistency this season. Hellickson lasted just five innings in each of his past two starts, with the Rays losing both despite scoring a combined 15 runs. Hellickson said a key is commanding his fastball and keeping it down.

MINOR MATTERS: OF prospect Wil Myers, pulled from Durham's game Thursday with an upset stomach, came back strong Friday with a three-run homer in his first at-bat.

HELPING HAND: 3B Evan Longoria will participate in the PNC Bank Miles for Moffitt one-mile run/walk this morning to benefit the Moffitt Cancer Center.

MISCELLANY: ESPN has selected the Rays-Red Sox game Wednesday as its national game, to be seen by most markets (Boston and Tampa excluded).

Comments
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Updated: 7 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

Having lost a pair of close games, the Rays will try again tonight to beat the Red Sox, and will have LHP Blake Snell on the mound.SS Willy Adames is in the lineup for the Rays for the third and what is expected to be the final time before being sent...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays morning after: Chris Archer, David Price sure matched up like they meant it

Rays morning after: Chris Archer, David Price sure matched up like they meant it

For two guys who said they didn't make much of matching up, they sure dueled like they did in Boston's 4-1 victory that was decided after they left.Chris Archer, the Rays current top starter, worked six impressive innings, allowing one run and four h...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Published: 05/24/18
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Published: 05/24/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Published: 05/23/18
Rays’ Jake Faria may be out until August, Vidal Nuno called up

Rays’ Jake Faria may be out until August, Vidal Nuno called up

UPDATE, 5:32: Faria is looking at at extended absence, potentially into August. Cash said an estimate of 6-8 weeks was on the optimistic side. "From what we found out he got it pretty good," Cash said.  "So it could be a little bit longer than t...
Published: 05/23/18