Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays give slumping Zobrist day off

MINNEAPOLIS — 2B Ben Zobrist usually shuns talk of taking a day off.

But when Rays coaches broached the idea after Friday's game, he didn't even put up a fight.

"When things start getting frustrating and you start getting too emotionally wrapped up in what's happening, that's when you know you mentally need the rest," Zobrist said. "And I think physically, too, after playing 21 out of 22 days. I think at this point of the season, I was pretty tired."

It showed, as Zobrist is hitless in his past 15 at-bats and 2-for-his-past-24. Plus he made two errors in a five-game span on the last road trip and a few misplays, or at least missed plays, since.

Manager Joe Maddon said he thought Zobrist, whom he refers to as a metronome because of his consistent effort, had looked a bit heavy-legged. "He just needed a day off," Maddon said.

Another sign of concern was that the mild-mannered Zobrist had slammed his bat a few times. "I've been frustrated," he said.

NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: Triple-A Durham won its fourth International League championship in 12 years, beating Pawtucket (Red Sox) 7-0 to wrap up the Governor's Cup in Game 4 on Saturday. Kevin Kiermaier hit a home run and Merrill Kelly worked six solid innings. Durham will face the PCL winner Tuesday in the Triple-A National Championship game in Allentown, Pa. This is Bulls' second championship under manager Charlie Montoyo, also in 2009.

CRAIN TRAIN: RHP Jesse Crain indeed came through Friday's bullpen session feeling good and will throw to hitters Monday at the Trop in what could be the final test of his previously strained shoulder before he is activated and pitches in games. A final decision on his next step will be made Tuesday.

"It could be (pitching in a game); I'm not going to deny that it could be," Maddon said. "I really believe when he gets a hitter out there he's going to crank it up a little bit more, and that next day after that is really going to tell us what we've got."

PRICE CHECK: Maddon joked there were "all kinds of sirens" going off in the Rays offices when he allowed LHP David Price to throw a career-high 127 pitches Tuesday, but the Rays ace said there has been no carryover effect as he prepared to start today.

"I felt great all week," Price said. "I felt great the next day. Honestly, there was no difference. I didn't feel any different in my bullpen. I haven't felt any different playing catch in my three previous days. I feel like I take care of myself. I feel like I'm a very well-conditioned baseball player and I want to be out there for as long as possible."

Though frustrated that the Rays lost the game to the Red Sox, Price took some solace in how well he pitched, specifically throwing 92 strikes — most by an American League pitcher this season — in eight innings. Price joined Cliff Lee as the only pitchers since 2008 to throw that many strikes in eight innings and get the loss.

ARCHER IN: Rookie RHP Chris Archer extended his career-high innings workload to 166 between the majors and minors, but Maddon said they expect him to make his three remaining regular-season starts.

That was part of the reason they limited him to 87 pitches and six innings in Friday's win and pulled him earlier in his two previous starts. "Under the circumstances, let's be prudent and squeeze all the utility you can out of him," Maddon said. "By continuing to do what we've been doing I think you can get three quality starts out of him."

MISCELLANY: The Rays beat the Twins for the 11th straight time, their second longest such streak over an opponent, beating the Orioles 12 straight in 2008. ... The Rays logged their 15th shutout, second in the AL to the Indians. Their 30 over the last two seasons are the most in the league. It was their 35th game this season allowing one or no runs, second to the Tigers. ..,

LHP Matt Moore threw his AL-leading 13th wild pitch. … The Rays went into play Saturday as one of just two teams to have used only two catchers this season; the Angels are the other. … OF Wil Myers went into play Saturday leading all rookies with 44 RBIs since his June 18 debut.

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