Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Odorizzi sees value of spring after fixing flaw in delivery

PORT CHARLOTTE — Sunday's start provided a good lesson for Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi on the benefit of spring training.

Odorizzi started sharply in the 5-4 loss to the Twins, striking out the first two batters. But, ever so slightly, he started leaning his head to the left as he went through his delivery, and as a result he lost his line to the plate and walked the next two.

Pitching coach Jim Hickey noticed, and Odorizzi was able to make a quick adjustment.

That SS Tim Beckham then booted a routine grounder that should have ended the inning, and that Korean import Byung Ho Park followed with a grand slam — his first home run — on a "here it is hit it" fastball, didn't take away from the experience gained.

"This is the time to work on things," Odorizzi said. "I'd rather it happen now than during the season. … It was just off for two batters, but sometimes that's all it takes."

Odorizzi, the projected No. 3 starter, faced nine batters overall, allowing one hit while walking three and throwing 42 pitches (24 strikes).

"Got my pitches in, so we're good," Odorizzi said.

SNOOZE BUTTON: The Rays are bringing in a sleep specialist to meet with players and staff this week, furthering their exploration of a subject they first looked into last season.

"We're very intrigued to hear from an organizational standpoint to get some input what we can do better," manager Kevin Cash said. "There is no denying the baseball lifestyle can be difficult at times as far as sleep. The things we've read on, we've done our research, we're going to have a guy come in and talk. It's starting to evolve."

FOR THE DEFENSE: The Rays have worked extensively on defense early in camp but made three more errors Sunday and lead the majors with 12 through five games.

"We've made a couple errors on balls I know we're going to make those plays during the season," Cash said. "But it's showed up and it's kind of hurt us in some of these games. And that's good for the guys to see, that's good for all of us, that shows the importance of making that routine play."

MORE MOORE: LHP Matt Moore makes his first game appearance of the spring today against the Red Sox after an impressive start to camp. Moore finished last season strong after struggling in his initial return from Tommy John surgery. "I've talked extremely highly of Matt Moore and the way he has thrown the ball," Cash said.

GAME DETAILS: Down 4-0 after Park's slam and 5-1 going to the ninth, the Rays (2-3) rallied before losing 5-4 to the Twins. With Juniel Querecuto aboard as the tying run, INF Ryan Brett's drive to left was run down by Darin Mastroianni for the final out. … RH closer Brad Boxberger made his first appearance of the spring, showing a good changeup while allowing a hit and logging a strikeout. He will be on a limited schedule this spring in anticipation of a heavy in-season workload. … Top LHP prospect Blake Snell had some trouble getting pitches down again in his second spring outing, but Cash said he was still impressed overall: "Man he's got some power stuff coming out of that arm." … Evan Longoria, getting a DH day with Taylor Motter at third, had his first two hits of the spring.

MISCELLANY: RHP Chris Archer, CF Kevin Kiermaier and Moore spoke to the 140 minor-leaguers before their first official workout of the spring. … Two boxes are set up in the clubhouse seeking equipment donations for Cuba. … OF Brandon Guyer is planning to play through Sunday, then take a few days off to be with wife Lindsay for the scheduled birth of their second child.

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