PORT CHARLOTTE — LHP Matt Moore didn't have much of an explanation for his ugly start Saturday, allowing the first seven Pirates to reach while throwing 41 pitches in failing to get through the first inning.
Moore said he was fine physically (and did hit 95 mph) but, despite the promise of last week's debut, was somewhat of a mess mechanically, evidenced by a walk, a hit batter and a wild pitch. "It takes me a little while to figure that rhythm out," he said.
Moore had similar issues last spring, which Rays manager Joe Maddon said wasn't necessarily a bad thing. "If I just go on recent history, a tough spring training equals an 8-0 start, so I'm not really worried about that," Maddon said, noting Moore has a complex delivery. "It was just one of those days."
DOWN UNDER: RHP Grant Balfour had another rough outing, allowing a three-run homer to Russell Martin, making it pretty much a normal spring for him thus far: feeling good and getting bad results (19.29 ERA).
"I feel like I'm out there going through the motions sometimes," he said. "I find it hard to get pumped up for it when I probably should be. … I feel like I'm going through that period right now, too, with my arm. The first couple games it felt like it was coming out all right. Now it just felt a little flat, a little dead (Saturday), there's really not much in there."
PAIN IN THE NECK: Maddon said RHP Joel Peralta was fine after he took him out of the game one batter in after the pitcher experienced "kind of a whiplash" from reacting to a comebacker.
Peralta said he felt "real uncomfortable" on the back of his neck and upper shoulder at first and still was a bit stiff afterward. "I don't think it's anything serious," he said. "I hope not."
MEDICAL MATTERS: 2B Ben Zobrist, who played in two games after recovering from back tightness, was scratched from the lineup due to a stiff neck. … OF David DeJesus hasn't played since Tuesday, and might not play until this Tuesday, due to soreness on his right side. "Nothing worth noting," he said. … INF Wilson Betemit, who reported Thursday, will work out for a few days and likely debut Monday.
FIRST CUTS: The Rays made their first roster reduction, sending down six pitchers and two others so they can start getting regular work to prepare for the minor-league season.
Optioned to Triple-A Durham were RHP Alex Colome and LHPs Mike Montgomery and Enny Romero; reassigned were RHPs Matt Andriese, Merrill Kelly and Victor Mateo, plus OF James Darnell and C Luke Maile.
RHP Nathan Karns, a long-shot candidate for the No. 5 starter's job, survived the cut, but Maddon said not to "read into it too heavily."
GAME DETAILS: Down 6-0 early, the offensive highlights for the Rays (5-2-1) came primarily from nonroster INF/OF Jerry Sands, who had another long homer, and DH Curt Casali, who had three hits. … RF Brandon Guyer booted a routine fly ball for a run-scoring error.
MISCELLANY: Saturday's crowd of 5,729 was the team's fifth of the spring without a sellout. … LHP Erik Bedard had to return to Canada to get his visa and was expected back late Saturday.