Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' sloppy play irks manager Kevin Cash

PORT CHARLOTTE — In the wake of a shank-filled Easter afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park, manager Kevin Cash indicated the Rays have exhausted their final figurative mulligan of the spring.

Cash was visibly perturbed after the Rays' 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, which ended with the hosts (11-11-1 this spring) tallying as many errors (four) as hits. Two errors came on consecutive third-inning fielding miscues by 3B Evan Longoria and SS Brad Miller.

"Kinda ugly. Not that great of a ball game," said Cash, whose entire team — and staff — gets today off.

"Hopefully the guys get their off day, enjoy their families and whatever they're doing and bounce back, because after this off day it's time to dial it up."

On a day in which the Rays intentionally used a staff of relievers, the Jays collected eight of their 11 hits off pitchers either considered roster locks or solid candidates to make the club.

RHP Andrew Bellatti, the sixth pitcher used, allowed two earned runs on three hits and walked two in 11/3 innings. With two out and two on in the eighth, he mishandled a grounder back to the mound that allowed a run to score.

"The defense wasn't good," Cash said. "Andrew Bellatti, he didn't have one of his better outings, but a couple of things that you can control on the mound, we didn't control. It's one thing to get hit around, but we've put an emphasis on doing the little things, holding runners and fielding your position, and we didn't do that" Sunday.

ROSTER MOVES: A week before the season opener, the Rays further whittled their roster with five moves.

Versatile INF/OF Taylor Motter was optioned to Triple-A Durham while C Mayo Acosta, OF Jaff Decker, RHP Tyler Sturdevant and RHP Jhan Marinez were reassigned to the minors.

Decker hit .370 with five doubles in 27 spring at-bats, while Motter (.250, one home run, four RBIs) committed one error in 14 games. The move of Motter essentially confirms Tim Beckham makes the team as a backup middle infielder.

"Decker hit the cover off the ball from Day 1," Cash said. "As far as Taylor Motter, he did everything he possibly could, too … present himself really well this camp. He caught the ball, he's just a baseball player."

Cash indicated Motter likely will play various spots at Durham, adding "we'd have all the confidence in the world basically playing him anywhere" if he were summoned to the big-league club.

MOORE WORK: Before his teammates' debacle against the Jays, LHP Matt Moore logged his lengthiest spring stint (six innings, 98 pitches) in a late-morning intrasquad game against a lineup consisting predominantly of big-leaguers.

"The good thing was, Matt Moore was outstanding (Sunday) on the back fields," Cash said.

Moore allowed two runs on seven hits — including consecutive first-inning doubles — while striking out eight and walking two. He said he expects his workload to taper off considerably in his next spring start, his last before the regular season.

"That's what we've done ever since I've been here, is work up to 105 and back down to three or four innings," Moore said. "I wouldn't ask much more out of myself right now. Just how I feel on the day I start, I feel ready to compete, and for me that's always been the thing I'm looking for."

ODDS AND ENDS: Sunday's paid attendance was 5,835. … With today off, the Rays will send opening-day starter Chris Archer and eight position players to Fort Myers on Tuesday to play in a Triple-A game against the Twins. … C Hank Conger homered in Sunday morning's intrasquad game off minor-league RHP Jaime Schultz. … RHP Jake Odorizzi turned 26 on Sunday.

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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