Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Moore muddles through debut

PORT CHARLOTTE — The best thing about LHP Matt Moore's spring debut Thursday was he got through it.

Moore didn't throw very hard or very well, allowing three hits and two walks in throwing 33 pitches to get four outs in an 11-2 loss to Detroit.

"I was real happy with being able to get out there and feel pain-free, feel nice," Moore, 23, said. "Let's just get this thing going, let's get some work going."

Moore said he hasn't built up to throwing his usual fastball, clocked typically in the lower 90s.

"I think that's just a result of getting my arm in velocity shape as camp goes on, at least I hope," he said.

He also said he didn't have a good feel on some of his offspeed pitches. On the plus side, he did get to work on his slide-step in holding on runners.

Manager Joe Maddon said Moore, who was 11-11 with a 3.81 ERA as a rookie, was healthy and that was all that mattered.

"It was not what you would call sharp, but it was effective in the sense that he got his requisite number of pitches in," Maddon said. "Not as sharp as he can be but will be."

LHP Jake McGee also had a rough outing, allowing three hits and a walk. He too wasn't throwing at his usual upper-90s velocity, and he said he was working specifically on his cutter.

GREENER PASTURES: DH Luke Scott started in rightfield, his first outfield action since July 3, 2011, just after the right shoulder injury that required surgery and hampered him last season.

Scott did well in limited exposure — one fly ball and a couple of base hits — and said he feels healthy enough and comfortable enough to play in the field occasionally. Maddon said the team is open to using him in leftfield, and at first base at times, thinking it could make him more productive as a DH.

Kelly Johnson started in left for the second straight day and didn't have any major issues, part of the program to increase his versatility.

GAME DETAILS: RHP Roberto Hernandez, making a strong bid for a rotation spot, overcame a two-walk first to work 2⅓ innings on 33 pitches. … RHP Joel Peralta made his spring debut with a one-hit seventh. … OF/1B Leslie Anderson had two more hits, hiking his average to .538. … 3B Evan Longoria got hits in his first two at-bats, making him 4-for-4 since the birth of daughter Elle. Then he grounded out.

KIRBY WITH A K: Maddon said he was impressed for a second time by RHP Kirby Yates, a 5-10 reliever who signed as a nondrafted free agent and has worked his way to Double-A Montgomery, going 4-2 with 16 saves and a 2.65 ERA for the Biscuits. "You got to keep your eye on that guy," Maddon said. "He's one of those guys who comes into a camp and nobody talks a lot about but — great composure, good stuff, knows how to throw a strike. He's been nice."

MISCELLANY: Players, coaches and team officials on March 15 will again shave their heads to raise funds for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. … RHP Jeff Niemann turned 30, joking he was glad former teammate James Shields had already broken the team streak of consecutive starts by pitchers under 30.

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