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Rays' Jeremy Moore hits massive homer

DUNEDIN — Rays OF Jeremy Moore doesn't consider himself a power hitter.

But his mammoth homer Wednesday against the Blue Jays easily cleared the 36-foot batter's eye wall in centerfield and likely went at least 450 feet.

That is, if it has landed yet.

"He crushed it," manager Joe Maddon said.

"It went a long, long way," 2B Ben Zobrist said.

Moore, 26, who is finally healthy after having hip surgery in March 2012, is tied with OF Jerry Sands for the team lead with three homers. Moore had two hits and a steal Wednesday, but his fourth-inning solo shot stole the show.

"The wind kind of blew it out a little bit," Moore said, smiling. "I didn't think it'd go that far."

While Moore's homer went farther, Sands' homer was bigger, a go-ahead solo shot in the ninth inning of a 5-4 win over Toronto. Maddon has been impressed with the duo, who are likely headed to Triple-A Durham.

"They happen to be hitting the ball really well right now," Maddon said. "But beyond that, they grade out well in other areas, too."

BACK IN SWING: Zobrist, scratched Saturday with a stiff neck, played in his first game in a week, going 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout as DH. More important, Zobrist said he felt good. He's scheduled to play second today against the Pirates.

FIRST TIME: RHP Jeremy Hellickson had his first throwing session since Jan. 29 elbow surgery and said it went well.

"Very encouraging," he said. "It felt really good."

Hellickson made 25 throws at distances of 45-60 feet six weeks to the day after Dr. Koco Eaton removed "loose bodies" from his elbow in an arthroscopic procedure. He will continue throwing on an every-other-day basis.

GAME DETAILS: RHP Mark Lowe, competing for the final bullpen spot, had a strong 1⅔-inning outing, striking out three and allowing one run. He said his cutter was really working. RHP Josh Lueke struggled, allowing three runs on three hits, including a two-run homer. "Just misplaced fastballs," Maddon said. LHP C.J. Riefenhauser pitched two perfect innings. CF Desmond Jennings had two singles and a steal.

BACK IN PC: After feeling flat with a bit of "dead arm" in Saturday's outing, RHP Grant Balfour felt markedly better after throwing 15 pitches in a minor-league game against the Orioles in Port Charlotte. "I felt really good, felt strong," he said. "I'm really, really happy with how it went." Balfour received treatment and got an extra day's rest.

RHP Joel Peralta followed with a solid 13-pitch inning, his first time on the mound since leaving Saturday's game with a stiff neck. Peralta, who also got an extra day off, called it the "best I've felt the whole spring."

RHP Alex Cobb threw 68 pitches (46 strikes) over four-plus innings in another minor-league game, allowing three hits and two runs (one earned) while walking two and striking out four.

FOR STARTERS: Col. Scott V. DeThomas, commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the March 31 season opener against the Blue Jays.

Rays' Jeremy Moore hits massive homer 03/12/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 10:34pm]
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