Monday, May 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays settle rotation and rest issues

SEATTLE — The Rays were thinking deeply about how to best set up their rotation for next week's series with the Red Sox, and they also wanted to give rookie RHP Chris Archer extra rest.

They believe they accomplished both with a plan that has ace David Price pitching Tuesday's series opener against Boston, followed by RHP Alex Cobb and RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who will have had seven days' rest. Archer will be pushed back an extra day to the Sept. 13 game in Minnesota.

"Everything is kind of fulfilled," manager Joe Maddon said.

In short, the Rays decided they wanted Price, who lost twice on the road trip, to "kick it off," and they liked using Hellickson, who made a successful return to the rotation Wednesday after a week off, on extra rest. Other options were RHP Roberto Hernandez or RHP Jake Odorizzi.

Archer, 24, starts tonight having thrown 156 innings (106 in the majors, 50 in Triple A); his career high is 157 1/3 last year, mostly at Durham. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his last start but said he doesn't feel any more tired than he did a few weeks ago when he was pitching well. So he wants to keep going, but he also understands the thought process.

"I want to pitch, but I know there's a lot of things that go into this that are outside of trying to get as many innings as possible," Archer said. "We're looking at what's best for the team right now and what's best for me personally long term."

Maddon said they hadn't decided how much more rest they will arrange for Archer in setting up the rest of the rotation.

"For right now we're pretty much going in small clumps," he said. "Right now we've got this going on; we'll see how this works and then we'll re-evaluate it after that."

DELMON TIME: DH Delmon Young was signed to play primarily against left-handers, but he was in the lineup Friday against RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, collecting a homer and a double, and may get more opportunities to boost the struggling offense. Young, who also will start tonight against rookie LHP James Paxton, looked good in his first eight at-bats.

"We have a lot of guys to keep involved, and I'm not going to run away from what we've been doing and how we've been doing things," Maddon said. "But I do believe if he is swinging the bat well he can help us in a lot of different moments."

CRAIN TIME: RHP Jesse Crain (shoulder strain) faces a crucial test today if he is to pitch for the Rays this year in throwing off the mound for the first time.

"He's eager to do it, I'm eager to watch it," Maddon said. "In talking to him, he's had this, like, cautious optimistic approach to the day. … So let's see what he looks like (today)."

If all goes well, Crain, acquired from the White Sox on July 29, will continue through the standard progressions of bullpen sessions, batting practice and simulated games, aiming to be ready by the final week of the season.

If not, the trade will likely be a waste because he won't have enough time to make it back. "It would be very difficult," Maddon said. "If there's something that was tangibly painful I think it might be almost impossible at that point."

NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: Triple-A Durham advanced to the International League finals after beating Indianapolis (Indians) 2-0 to complete a three-game series sweep. The Bulls will face the Pawtucket (Red Sox)-Rochester (Twins) winner. Advanced Class A Charlotte's second game of the Florida State League Championship Series was rained out Friday and will be played tonight in Daytona (Cubs) with Games 3-4-5 set for Port Charlotte starting Sunday.

MISCELLANY: Ben Zobrist went into play Friday two walks shy of matching Carlos Peña's franchise-leading mark of 460.

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