Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Scott: Powerful feeling at plate returns

ST. PETERSBURG — DH Luke Scott's 425-foot solo homer Thursday afternoon wasn't the farthest one he has hit in his career, not even the longest he has had at Tropicana Field.

But considering how Scott felt as he ripped the pitch off the back wall in rightfield, he said it's a "really good sign" of where he is offensively.

"That felt really like my former self," Scott, 35, said.

He was referring to his 2010 season, when he hit a career-high 27 homers for the Orioles, many of which were line drives like Thursday's that went deep into the stands or onto Eutaw Street in Baltimore. Shoulder surgery ended his 2011 season, and injuries limited him the past two seasons with the Rays, but Scott said he's starting to feel better. In Friday's 2-1 loss to the Astros, he extended his season-high hitting streak to eight games and is batting .366 over his last 22.

Scott said the key is having a better feel at the plate. Manager Joe Maddon said the main reason is Scott has organized his strike zone.

"I used to talk about digging and eventually finding gold," Scott said. "I think that's what I'm experiencing now."

Teaching POWER: Maddon said he enjoys teaching outfield defense, and he had a hands-on instructional moment with rookie RF Wil Myers before Friday's game. Maddon, taking a page from what he learned from former scout Sam Suplizio, discussed the proper footwork with Myers.

Since giving Myers a mental day off Tuesday, Maddon has seen an improvement at the plate, specifically with Myers' posture.

"I think he's done everything properly since he's been here, and I really anticipate it's going to continue that way," Maddon said. "He's a good young man, he really cares, and he's got a big-league way about him. He knows he belongs here."

ROBERTO ROBBED: Though RHP Roberto Hernandez's record is 4-10 heading into today's start, Maddon believes the veteran has "pitched a lot better than that record indicates."

Hernandez has had three straight quality starts and no wins. The Rays have only scored eight runs with him in the game his past five times out.

"I think he's getting better, he's gotten better all year," Maddon said.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former Rays 1B Carlos Peña was thrilled to be back at the Trop with his new Astros team.

"It's a very warm feeling to walk into this building," Peña said. "The best times of my career thus far have been here. It's a very special place. This is something that I was looking forward to, and I want to just enjoy every single moment. I feel good seeing the fans, they've been very supportive."

Peña was not in the lineup against LHP David Price, but he could be today. Peña starred for the Rays in 2007-10, and he returned for another season in 2012.

MINOR MATTERS: Rays director of minor-league operations Mitch Lukevics said OF Josh Sale, the team's first-round pick in 2010, remains suspended indefinitely and is at home, but "we want to get him back." Sale, suspended in late May after his offensive Facebook post about a trip to a strip club, has handled everything "extremely well" since, Lukevics said: "He's doing everything that he should be doing at this point. Certainly he's not happy, nor us, on the behavior that put him where he is, but he's doing what he should be doing to get him back, and we want him back."

MISCELLANY: There were no draft pick signings for the Rays by Friday's deadline; they ended up with 33 of 41 signed. The highest not to sign was sixth-round RHP Stephen Woods. … Triple-A Durham RHP Alex Colome was placed on the DL with an elbow strain.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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