Monday, July 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Chris Archer pleased with 'quality changeups'

FORT MYERS — When you are as driven as Rays ace RHP Chris Archer, you look for specific signs of success during your first spring outing.

Friday, in a solid two innings against Boston's "A" lineup in a 7-2 loss, that was having the changeup he has been working on break so much that his own coaches and the JetBlue Park message board operator confused it with his slider.

"I know that I threw quality changeups when the scoreboard says slider," Archer said. "That happened probably four-five times, so I was really happy with that.

"Sometimes you find small things that validate your work, and that's it. Those guys are supposed to be professionals at identifying the pitches for the fans, and if it had the same late action and depth as my slider, then mission accomplished."

Manager Kevin Cash and pitching coach Jim Hickey were wondering the same thing in the dugout based on how much depth there was to the break. "It was good, really good," Cash said. "(Archer) should be really pleased."

Archer was 12-13 with a 3.23 ERA and an all-star appearance last season, but, naturally, believes he can get much better and said he will always keep working.

"It's consistency," he said. "The goal is 34 starts of being as consistent as you possibly can. We know as human beings that that's not necessarily always going to be the case, but I'm striving for perfection."

Overall, the expected opening day starter threw 26 pitches to eight batters without allowing a hit, plunking Xander Bogaerts (and telling him he didn't mean anything by it) and seeing Pablo Sandoval reach on 3B Evan Longoria's error.

"I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish, and that was, be over the plate as much as I possibly could with everything," Archer said.

FARIA REAL: RHP Jake Faria, one of the Rays' top young starting prospects, made an impressive big-league spring debut, working a 1-2-3 eighth.

Faria, 22, said he was nervous Friday morning, but got increasingly calmer as he got to the field, the bullpen and into the game. "I'm really happy," he said. "Everything felt really good."

Cash was pleased with the way Faria threw strikes and how poised he was.

MEDICAL MATTERS: INF Richie Shaffer left the game with two outs in the ninth after being hit by a pitch on his left knee but said he wanted to stay in. "It's like getting hit on the funny bone sort of," he said. "I'm fine. It's no big deal." … Cash said OF Steven Souza Jr. (intercostal strain) went through outfield drills in Port Charlotte and "swung the bat really well" in his first batting practice. If all continues to go well, Cash said Souza is likely to make his exhibition debut March 10-11.

GAME DETAILS: 1B James Loney, playing for a job somewhere if not with the Rays, had two doubles, and is now 3-for-5 overall. … RHP Jhan Marinez allowed three runs in the sixth as the Sox took a 4-2 lead, but was a victim of three infield singles. … RHP Kyle McPherson gave up a homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. on his first pitch starting the third. … Cash was pleased with the aggressive offensive approach and number of well-struck balls against Boston big-leaguer RHPs Joe Kelly, Junichi Tazawa and new closer Craig Kimbrel.

PITCHING IN: LHP Drew Smyly, whose shoulder issues started last spring, makes his exhibition debut tonight, having looked "real good" thus far, Cash said. … LHP Xavier Cedeno and RHP Alex Colome, on a slower schedule this spring based on 2015 workload, threw their first live batting practices Thursday, with another planned for Sunday before making their spring debuts in the middle of next week.

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