PORT CHARLOTTE — RHP Chris Archer chose his words carefully, but it was clear he was disappointed to wake up early Sunday to a text telling him not to take his scheduled flight to Los Angeles because he wouldn't be pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic final.
"I don't know what happened other than maybe they think there's a better option," he said. "I don't disagree, I think everybody there is capable of doing something special. But I was definitely looking forward to pitching on the 22nd if necessary."
If anything, that was the problem: Archer could only pitch Wednesday, the day of the championship game. Team USA has Toronto RHP Marcus Stroman to start then. First it has to win a semifinal Tuesday, and Archer was not going to be available then.
As thrilled as Archer was to be part of the WBC experience, he made it clear he was more committed to sticking to the pitching schedule the Rays laid out for him to be ready for opening day.
That was why he came out of the March 10 WBC opener after his four-inning limit, even while being perfect. That was why he left Team USA after Round 1 and rejoined the Rays, so he could pitch as planned March 16 when there was no WBC game. And that was why he was only available Wednesday, which led USA GM Joe Torre to text thanks but no thanks to Archer, creating media speculation team officials were unhappy with him for leaving and not being more flexible.
"The decision was based on Chris' pitching schedule more than anything," Team USA spokesman Rob Butcher said in an e-mail. "Because we can't guarantee we'll be playing on March 22, Joe suggested that if Chris wanted to stay on his scheduled day, he should remain in Florida rather than fly across the country and then maybe not pitch at all."
Archer will be pitching vs. the Orioles in Sarasota and rooting hard for his mates.
"I wanted to pitch there," Archer said. "I had planned on it the entire offseason. We have talked about it since February. There were three days I was able to throw."
RHP Jake Odorizzi was not asked to join Team USA; Giants closer Mark Melancon was. … With the Dominicans out, RHPs Alex Colome and Jumbo Diaz are expected to rejoin the Rays this week; manager Kevin Cash hopes to see them today. … LHP Jose Alvarado, who pitched for Venezuela, is headed back and will be optioned to the minors.
Don't see it every day
INF Nick Franklin provided some rare spring fireworks, getting ejected after a strike three call by ump Ryan Blakney. Franklin said he asked about strike one being low and Blakney disagreed "with an exclamation point" then said, "Keep taking it, see what happens." So after strike three Franklin fired back with some choice words but didn't get his full say: "(Manager Kevin) Cash cut me short a little bit. I wish he would've walked out a little slower."
Game report: Rays beat Phillies 8-0
For the second time this spring, the Rays (11-9-2) lost a perfect game in the eighth, RHP Danny Farquhar allowing a one-out double to Tommy Joseph. … OF/DH Colby Rasmus, coming off hip and core muscle surgery, said he felt good after his debut, striking out three times, and expects to DH again today. … LHP Justin Marks, who can start or relieve, retired the first nine, extending his spring scoreless streak to 10 innings over six games. "He's going to help us, I don't know when," manager Kevin Cash said. … 1B Rickie Weeks and SS Tim Beckham both had several outstanding defensive plays.
. No. 2 starter RHP Jake Odorizzi will throw in a minor-league game today as No. 4 starter LHP Blake Snell faces the Pirates.
. 3B Evan Longoria was scratched from the lineup due to a stiff neck.