Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays may pull Matt Moore from scheduled start against Angels

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are thinking about tinkering with their rotation.

LHP Matt Moore was lined up to start Sunday in Anaheim, with the plan to drop in a fifth starter either Monday or Tuesday in Seattle.

But Rays manager Kevin Cash said that Sunday's starter is now "to be determined," which seems to mean they are instead thinking of using the extra starter — either RHP Matt Andriese or RHP Erasmo Ramirez — against the Angels, who happen to hit markedly better against lefties.

Ramirez has been pitching extremely well out of the bullpen, and the Rays are tempted to leave him there. Andriese is 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Durham but coming off a dazzling Tuesday outing in which he threw seven scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 14. He leads all minor-leaguers with 44 strikeouts.

If the Rays wait until Monday or Tuesday against the Mariners, they could consider calling up top LHP prospect Blake Snell, who was not sharp in a Wednesday matinee for Durham, walking five. The Seattle native allowed three runs over five innings.

ANGELS, TOO: The Angels are expected to decide today on their starter for Friday's game, as ace RHP Garrett Richards is questionable after leaving his Sunday start in Texas after 79 pitches due to dehydration and cramping. If he can't go, they could recall RHP Matt Shoemaker, if there is a DL move involved, or otherwise make it a bullpen game and start either RHP Cory Rasmus or LHP Jose Alvarez.

SOUZA OUT: Steven Souza Jr. was a bit shaken initially by an odd feeling in his chest during a sixth-inning at-bat and left the game with what the team called a pectoral spasm, but he said he was fine after his heart was checked by doctors.

"It felt really weird. It just felt kind of a tingling sensation throughout my body, and I didn't know what it was,'' Souza said. "Never had anything like that happen to me, so I was a little freaked out. My chest obviously had a spasm of some sort, I was a little out of breath. … I'm okay now, it just kind of lingered for a little bit.''

Souza in his previous at-bat homered, his team-leading sixth of the season, and snapped an 0-for-10 streeak in doing so.

STAND BY YOUR MEN: The Nos. 5-7 hitters — Souza, Corey Dickerson and Desmond Jennings — were hitless in their previous 52 at-bats going int the game, but Cash said he believes it's important to show confidence by sticking with slumping hitters.

"We do have some guys struggling, but I think the worst thing you can do is run from them," Cash said. "These are our guys. We're going to win with these guys. And we've got to find a way to win. And when one guy's not doing it, it's on somebody else to help pick up the load."

ON THE CATWALK: After hitting a massive homer Tuesday that got stuck in the C-ring catwalk, Dodgers OF Trayce Thompson came over early Wednesday, hoping to venture to the top of the Trop to take a look and get the ball back. Stadium officials nixed his plan, so he visited the Rays tank instead.

"They said they don't let players do it anymore," he said. "It would be cool if someone got up there and got the ball."

REHAB REPORT: RHP Brad Boxberger is slated to throw batting practice in Port Charlotte on Friday and Monday and, if all continues to go well in his recovery from core muscle repair surgery, start a rehab assignment Thursday, slated to make about six appearances. … After throwing one inning Tuesday for advanced Class A Charlotte, RHP Neil Wagner (Tommy John elbow surgery) was promoted to Durham.

MISCELLANY: LHP Drew Smyly had six more strikeouts, giving him 47 for the season, second in the AL, with 41 swinging. … An early heads-up — Friday's game in Anaheim is not being televised by Fox Sports Sun. … RHP Brent Honeywell may not be long for the Stone Crabs, improving to 3-0, 0.98 in six starts with 40 strikeouts in 362/3 innings. … The Rays face the Dodgers again July 26-27 in Los Angeles.

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