Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays swap struggling Miller, Morrison in lineup

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Kevin Cash didn't have a good reason why Tuesday was the right time, but he decided to make a change to the Rays' core lineup, flipping struggling SS Brad Miller and struggling-even-more 1B Logan Morrison.

So going forward, for now anyway, Miller, hitting .155, will bat second and Morrison, at .093, will be sixth.

"I don't have the greatest explanation for it," Cash said. "You're talking about two guys that probably haven't swung the bat the way they're capable of, but the hope is that it's just a different look, and a different spot in the order, and somebody catches fire. And if we're lucky, both of them do."

Initial results showed some spark, anyway. Morrison went 1-for-4 with a double (and a hard out) against the Orioles, Miller 2-for-4 with a double.

"There's no time frame whatsoever," Cash said. "I'm not the biggest fan, personally, of changing a lot. Let's see how this shakes out, and if we've got to continue to adjust, we'll do that. This is a tough one. We talked about it for a couple days. I don't think it's the biggest deal in the world, but you like for guys to have some comfort, and if this helps, great."

CATCHING ON: Curt Casali has obviously assumed the role of primary catcher, starting nine of the past 11 games (and coming in for defense in another) since Hank Conger allowed five stolen bases April 14.

But Cash said the Rays have to remain mindful of not overworking Casali and will continue to use Conger, who is slated to start today with LHP Matt Moore on the mound. The split of playing time, which was 50-50 to start the season, is still to be determined.

"We're still working through that," Cash said. "Curt, to his credit, has done a really nice job working with the pitchers. (But) Hank is going to catch."

The Rays don't have many options. Luke Maile is still several days if not a week away from returning to action at Triple-A Durham after being sidelined with a hamstring issue. And though they have been looking externally, there is not much available on the trade market that fits.

ENNY HAPPY: LHP Enny Romero earned his first big-league win in his 32nd appearance, planning to send the ball and the lineup card home to his mother in the Dominican Republic. "So excited right now,'' he said. Pleased, too, at how his winter's work has paid off, as he has allowed just two hits and one earned run through his first eight appearances.

UN-BOXED: RHP Brad Boxberger was cleared to resume full baseball activities after a good report from his Monday visit to Philadelphia to see Dr. William Meyers, who did his March 17 core muscle repair surgery.

"He said everything is good, ready to go," Boxberger said. "I can start working more on the baseball stuff, agilities and all that. Getting back with the boys."

Boxberger, who throws his second bullpen session today, is aiming for a mid May return to his closing duties, though the Rays, who typically are more conservative, have not yet set a schedule.

"From talking to him, he's eager to get back out there, which is great," Cash said. Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield "has said he's been tremendous in the weight room and in the rehab. We expect a lot of big things when he is back."

MISCELLANY: Desmond Jennings' third-inning sac fly was the team's first of the season. … RHP Erasmo Ramirez made his AL-most fifth relief appearance of at least two innings. … RHP Alex Colome has retired his last 10 batters. … Attendance was 10,988. ... Much was made of RHP Chris Archer's effective use of his changeup in getting his first win Monday, but Cash said it was more "about the fastball and establishing it early." … RHP Alex Cobb stepped up the intensity in the fifth bullpen session of his Tommy John surgery rehab, still eyeing a late July return.

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