Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays laugh at Red Sox's near no-hitter

FORT MYERS — Spring training is all about getting ready for the regular season, and the jokes were flying — even in the Rays clubhouse — that they were in prime form as they were perfect-gamed by Boston starter Jon Lester and three relievers into the ninth inning Sunday in what ended up a 5-1 loss.

"We get one a year, might as well get it out of the way now," RHP Alex Cobb said.

Nonroster OF Jason Bourgeois saved the Rays from the ignominy of what apparently would have been the first spring training perfect game since 2000 with an infield single with one out in the ninth. After a passed ball, INF Cole Figueroa hit a two-out RBI double. The Rays have been on the wrong end of three regular-season perfect games (plus another no-hitter) since 2009.

"Just glad I can shed some light on the day for us," Bourgeois said.

Manager Joe Maddon wasn't too shaken by the possibility. "We have a lot of practice in rebounding from those kind of events, so from that perspective it was not that big of a concern," he said. "If anybody can deal with a perfect game or no-hitter, we can."

GAME DETAILS: Cobb saw his spring scoreless streak end at 13 innings — "I'm probably going to lose some sleep over it tonight," he joked — in what he considered a "get-your-work-in" 5⅓-inning outing, allowing six hits, fanning five and throwing 83 pitches (55 strikes). Maddon said he thought Cobb was sharp overall: "Liked it a lot." … Former Rays OF Jonny Gomes had three hits and knocked in the first four Boston runs. … RHP Juan Sandoval, reassigned Saturday to minor-league camp, had another rough outing. … The Rays are 13-9.

WBC GOOD: INF/OF Ben Zobrist returned to camp Sunday morning, saying it was a "privilege" to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and "certainly one of the most memorable experiences" of his career.

And despite limited action (3-for-11 with three walks in four games), Zobrist said he returns in game shape and not in need of any extra work to get caught up. Zobrist worked out in Port Charlotte on Sunday and is on the travel squad for Tuesday's game in Lakeland.

WBC BAD: Maddon is concerned about closer Fernando Rodney, who has been dominating for the Dominican Republic team. Not as much for his heavy workload, pitching in all six games (and closing five) over 10 days, with the potential for two more (tonight's semifinal, Tuesday's final), but for a potential letdown when he returns.

"You're pitching at such a high level, the way the Dominicans are dealing with this it's almost like a playoff situation, so there's a lot of amperage going on there," Maddon said. "We'll see how this all plays out. … There's going to be some kind of 'woof' after this whole thing's over."

Conversely, Maddon is concerned about the lack of work C Jose Molina has gotten for Puerto Rico, just three at-bats going into Sunday. But the Rays also have to be careful not to push Molina, 37, too hard to make up for it. "We'll see how he feels when he gets back," Maddon said.

PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price will make a second straight start in a minor-league game on the back fields of the Port Charlotte complex today, the product of keeping him on a five-day schedule leading to the April 2 season opener.

MISCELLANY: LHP Braulio Lara was returned to the Rays by the Marlins, who took him in the Rule 5 draft. He will report to minor-league camp. … Maddon said he remained confident OF Sam Fuld (right hamstring tightness) would be ready for the start of the season and would make a mid- to late-week return to exhibition action. … The Rays finished the spring 2-4 vs. Boston. … 3B coach Tom Foley returned after missing the past two games due to a family matter.

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