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Rays' Matt Moore returns to mound after getting hit

LAKELAND — Considering LHP Matt Moore got struck in the mouth with a line drive in his last start, he said it was "instinctual" for him to duck Friday when Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera ripped a single to center in the first inning.

But Moore felt fine fielding C Alex Avila's chopper to the mound in the second.

"There was a couple times I felt myself flinch," Moore said. "But I would imagine that would be kind of natural. I'm sure it'll get better as we go."

Moore felt he got better during the final spring start, allowing three runs on seven hits (all singles) in three innings (72 pitches, 46 strikes). While he gave up more hits than he would like, Moore was pleased to have no walks, after having 10 combined his previous two outings.

"It's a little bit easier for me, personally, to walk away from a game like this where I was in the zone, they beat me, I didn't put them on and put them through home plate," Moore said. "We'll try to work around some of those base hits, and we'll be ready for the season."

BEDARD BACK: LHP Erik Bedard is back with the Rays, signing another minor-league deal that provides important depth at Triple-A Durham.

Bedard, 35, lost out on the fifth-starter competition during camp to RHP Jake Odorizzi and was granted his release so he could pursue other big-league options.

But Bedard enjoyed his experience with Tampa Bay, calling it a "breath of fresh air," and appeared open to a return if nothing else materialized.

"It's great to have him back in the fold," manager Joe Maddon said. "I really think he can come up big for us at some point this year. This guy definitely fits into what we're doing around here."

Bedard, a 10-year veteran, will join the Durham rotation, giving the Rays another needed option since RHP Alex Colome was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

"I'm a little surprised nobody picked (Bedard) up," Maddon said. "He's still got a lot left, there's no question about it, he just needs a little more time to sharpen up. And having him in Triple A is good for us."

The team also signed INF Mike Fontenot to a minor-league deal. Fontenot, 33, who spent last season in Triple-A Durham, was recently released by the Nationals.

Fontenot also provides depth at Durham, especially with SS Hak-Ju Lee (calf strain) out 3-4 weeks and INF Jayson Nix traded Friday to the Phillies for cash considerations.

GAME DETAILS: CF Brandon Guyer went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and made a diving catch in a 6-3 loss to the Tigers. … LHP Jake McGee hit 99 mph. … RHP Grant Balfour was sharp in a perfect outing. The Rays had six wild pitches and one passed ball. … The Rays (16-7-4) finished with the best record in the Grapefruit League.

MISCELLANY: The Rays will take starting RHP Chris Archer and most of their position players — including Alabama native Desmond Jennings — for today's up-and-back trip to Montgomery, Ala., for an exhibition against their Double-A team. … The frontline infielders were among players working out at the Trop on Friday, hitting in front of the new batter's eye. … LHP David Price and several other pitchers took batting practice as part of their prep for the April 11-13 interleague series at Cincinnati.

Rays' Matt Moore returns to mound after getting hit 03/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:58pm]

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