PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays most likely will open the season April 2 without RHP Brad Boxberger in their bullpen due to a strain in his back/lat area.
"I just don't see how it's going to happen," manager Kevin Cash said. "I'm not saying it won't, but it's very tough for me. … Realistically, key piece in our bullpen, we're going to do right by him and want him to get his innings and reps. It's going to be very difficult to do that."
The Rays were counting heavily on Boxberger, who has yet to pitch in a spring game and was scratched from a planned minor-league outing today.
With Boxberger out and RHP Shawn Tolleson working back from back issues, Cash is eager to for a look at RHP Jumbo Diaz, who is expected in camp by Wednesday, having been claimed from the Reds during his stint with the Dominican World Baseball Classic team.
"We're anxious to see him, simply because we've got decisions to make especially with some of the bullpen question marks," Cash said. "He's going to come in and put himself right into contention for those last couple spots. We need to get him here and get him pitching."
What, Blake worry?
Second-year LHP Blake Snell insists there is nothing to worry about despite a rough spring, with 18 hits and eight walks in 141/3 innings over five games.
"Not at all," Snell (left) said. "I'm getting ready for the season. I'm happy with how I'm going about it. I'm happy that I struggled to start, (it) made me want to learn that much more. I'm aware of what I'm doing, I'm aware of what I need to work on, and I know that it's spring training and it doesn't matter. At the same time it matters to me because I know what I need to do for my next outing."
Manager Kevin Cash said Snell was "a little bit better" in Monday's five-inning start vs. the Pirates, which included two walks, two homers and 76 pitches (46 strikes), but made it clear it was time to see more improvement.
"Not just with Blake, there's numerous people," Cash said. "If we know what we've got to do, why aren't we doing it?"
Quote of the day
"Is down the middle bad?"
LHP Blake Snell, on whether his location was bad on two pitches hit for homers.
Game report: Rays lose to Pirates 5-4
2B Brad Miller looked better at the plate after making a few adjustments, singling in richer but still hustling Kevin Kiermaier in the first. … Nick Franklin got some time in left and Michael McKenry at first as the Rays sort through bench options. … Colby Rasmus, coming off hip and core muscle surgery, DHed for a second day, grounding out and walking. … RHP Shawn Tolleson made his third appearance since a back spasm, allowing one hit.
Suggestion of the day
Baseball ops president Matt Silverman's answer when CF Kevin Kiermaier was asked how next offseason could top this one, in which he won a second Gold Glove, bought a house, got engaged and signed a six-year, $53.5 million contract.
. No. 2 starter RHP Jake Odorizzi threw 68 pitches over six innings in a Class A game against the Orioles, striking out seven. No. 5 starter Matt Andriese will go to Fort Myers today to face Twins Triple-A minor-leaguers.
. Chris Archer sat in on Kevin Kiermaier's contract news conference, which Kiermaier noted and appreciated.
. Biggest names on the travel squad for Bradenton today are Alex Cobb, Steven Souza Jr. and Rickie Weeks.
. Usual 1B coach Rocco Baldelli and 3B coach Charlie Montoyo switched places for the final three innings Monday. Manager Kevin Cash said Baldelli did so for experience in case Montoyo gets ejected from a game. "The funny thing is Rocco'd be third, (bench coach Tom) Foley would be the next one out there," Cash said.