Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays home in on bullpen help


Improving the bullpen was one of the Rays' top goals for this season, and they are still trying to do that, getting close to finalizing a minor-league deal with veteran RHP Tommy Hunter.

And they are talking about at least taking a flier on another intriguing option. Veteran RHP Brian Wilson is trying to make a comeback as a knuckleballer.

Hunter, 30, can provide depth and experience. He split last season with the Indians and Orioles, going 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 33 games, and he has been in the majors for parts of nine seasons, switching in 2013 from starting to relieving.

The Rays appear to have two openings in their bullpen, with five spots targeted for RHPs Alex Colome, Brad Boxberger, Erasmo Ramirez and Shawn Tolleson, and LHP Xavier Cedeno.

Wilson, 35 in March, last pitched in the majors in 2014, He is known as much (or more) for his eccentric personality and flowing beard as his solid relief work during nine years with the Giants and Dodgers. The Rays' interest makes sense. They have developed a program and hired staff to identify, develop and refine knuckleball pitchers. If signed, Wilson likely would be in minor-league camp.

TV time

Rich Hollenberg (below), a pregame and postgame host and occasional in-game reporter for Fox Sports Sun the past three seasons, surprisingly hasn't been retained. A replacement is expected to be named soon.

"While this move was not my decision, I understand it's a business," he said. "I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the Rays and will especially miss interacting with the fans. It never felt like work to me, especially because I had such a blast with (co-host) Orestes (Destrade), who I consider like a brother.''

Hollenberg plans to expand his college football duties with ESPN.

Also, Fox announced the hiring of Alex Corddry as the in-game reporter to replace Todd Kalas, who left to become the Astros' TV play-by-play announcer. Corddry covered college football for ESPN and the SEC Network.

Tweet of the day

"The last tools necessary before heading to Port Charlotte. #KramerKnives"

3B and noted chef Evan Longoria, who included a photo that included four knives, a wooden spoon and other cooking utensils

Number of the day

2 Players of the 23 position players invited to camp who hadn't reported by Thursday: 3B Evan Longoria and OF Richie Weeks. The first full-squad workout is Sunday.

Spring flings

. OF Mallex Smith spends a lot of time working on his bunting, impressing coaches with his dedication, talent and advanced knowledge of technique.

. Pitchers Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi, Chase Whitley, Kevin Gadea, Blake Snell and Xavier Cedeno did not throw bullpen sessions Thursday. They are in the group that will receive extra days between sessions because of the longer-than-normal camp.

. Though he wasn't throwing, Alex Cobb stood on a bullpen mound and worked on his delivery.

. Pitchers Jake Faria, Danny Farquhar, Ryan Garton and Ryan Stanek threw their first bullpen sessions of camp.

Medical matters

RHP Jose De Leon, who skipped Wednesday's bullpen session because of mid-back tightness, played catch on flat ground. Manager Kevin Cash said he expected De Leon to throw a bullpen session today. Cash said he believed Ramirez, who missed Wednesday's workout because of a sore hamstring, will also throw a bullpen today.

Steady LoMo

1B/DH Logan Morrison reported to camp and said his left wrist, which required offseason surgery, is fine. Manager Kevin Cash said he was impressed last season with the way Morrison carried himself while batting .100 with a .156 on-base percentage in April. "I don't know if you can envision a player handling it any better than him," Cash said. "For a new guy coming into the team, he probably naturally, unknowingly put some exceeded expectations (on himself), and he didn't panic. He didn't complain when maybe some playing time started to decrease. He waited his turn. Did the same routine, same work, was the same consistent guy. That meant a lot to us as a clubhouse, as a coaching staff. We learned a lot about him."

The dish

Today's workout for pitchers and catchers starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, and will last about 2¼ hours. Admission and parking are free. Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: Interstate 75 south to Toledo Blade Road, go west 6½ miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776), go right 2 miles, stadium complex is on left. For more information: (941) 235-5025.

Rays home in on bullpen help 02/16/17 [Last modified: Friday, February 17, 2017 12:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Vernon Hargreaves needs to improve


    TAMPA — The Bucs now rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 301 yards per game in their 2-3 start, and coach Dirk Koetter was asked Monday how concerned he is with the play of second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, throwing an incompletion under pressure after replacing injured Jameis Winston against the Cardinals,  would start this Sunday in Buffalo if Winston’s shoulder is still bothering him.
  4. Backhand shot makes Nikita Kucherov's offense even more dangerous

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Nikita Kucherov is on a historic streak, just the fourth player in the past 30 years to score a goal in each of his first six games.

    Nikita Kucherov’s backhand shot adds to his strong scoring.
  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe


    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]