Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays to ease Brad Boxberger back into closer role

KANSAS CITY — The Rays see RHP Brad Boxberger's return from the disabled list as the kind of move that will make their bullpen deeper and better.

And in no way divided by any closer controversy.

Manager Kevin Cash made it clear before Monday's game that it was merely a matter of when, and not if, Boxberger reclaims his closer's job from Alex Colome, who did quite well in his absence.

The only hesitation is Cash's "perfect world" plan to find a "soft landing" for Boxberger to make his season debut, having been sidelined since March 17 core muscle repair surgery. Had the Rays not tied the score, he would have worked the eighth Monday.

"I think it's fair to say we would probably work Boxy back into the closer's role than stick him right into it," Cash said.

Players don't usually lose their jobs due to injury, and Boxberger certainly has the credentials from last season, having led the American League with 41 saves, albeit also with six blown saves, 10 losses and a 3.71 ERA.

And as impressive as Colome was in his stead, going 12-for-12 in saves with a 1.23 ERA and 18 of 20 appearances scoreless, and as much as he enjoyed the pressure and responsibility, he said he has zero issue handing the job back to Boxberger.

"I had his spot right now because of the injury, and now he is well and he comes back and takes his spot," Colome said. "If they put (a different) guy in there maybe I'd feel bad about it. If … he comes and takes his spot, I do what I have to do. I don't know why I would feel bad. We're teammates, we're friends."

Plus Colome said he will stick with the same approach: "If I throw in the eighth or the seventh, I have to think like it's the same situation and do my job. I don't have to change my mind about anything."

Boxberger said the right things Monday, that he is just happy to be back in the bullpen after going through the recovery and rehab process, which will include ongoing pregame conditioning and maintenance work.

"I don't have any expectations right now," he said. "I'm just expecting myself to go out there every day and take the ball in whatever situation it is. If that's the ninth, great. And if not, we'll go from there, and just take every day as a new day and be able to help my team in any situation I can."

What matters most, Cash said, is that the bullpen overall will be better, with the potential in protecting leads to go from RHP Erasmo Ramirez to Colome to Boxberger.

"We're obviously very excited to have Boxy back," Cash said. "I think we've all seen over the last couple weeks, a month, we're missing one guy down there that can really pitch some big innings for us. And we know he's very capable of doing that."

PEARCE OUT: 2B Steve Pearce left the game after eight innings due to right elbow irritation. He said it has been an issue for "a while," but it hadn't been an issue on a swing until Monday. He said he expects to be able to play tonight.

REHAB REPORT: 2B Logan Forsythe hit off a tee at Tropicana Field, the next step in his rehab from a fractured left shoulder, eyeing a mid June return. … Cash said the right pec strain that landed RHP Ryan Webb on the DL Sunday is not expected "to be a long term thing." … LHP Jonny Venters, a potential mid-summer addition to the bullpen after three Tommy John surgeries, continues to pitch well in extended spring training, clocked Monday at 93 mph.

MISCELLANY: RHP Matt Andriese became the first Rays pitcher to commit two balks in one game. … Cash said he wanted to keep Taylor Motter involved, which is why Motter started at shortstop ahead of lefty-swinging Brad Miller against Royals RHP Ian Kennedy. … Both teams wore camo-style hats and jerseys as part of the MLB-wide salute to Memorial Day. … LHP Drew Smyly, who starts tonight, said he considered it "unlucky" to be one of two pitchers in the majors (along with ex-Rays RHP James Shields, now with the Padres) to have six losses and an ERA under 4.00.

Comments
Inside the Raysí plan to prove the tanking truthers wrong

Inside the Raysí plan to prove the tanking truthers wrong

PORT CHARLOTTE – The Rays know tanking."We tanked in 2006 and '07, if you want to call it that," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "We were the original tankers. Or tankees. It seems to be all the fad now."In losing 101 and 96 games in the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays Journal: Duffy not just playing but playing well, Faria struggles, more

Rays Journal: Duffy not just playing but playing well, Faria struggles, more

FORT MYERS – Just playing on back-to-back days was significant for Rays 3B Matt Duffy.Playing well has made the start of spring training even better."Really liked the way Duffy has continued to play," manager Kevin Cash said after a 4-3 loss to...
Updated: 10 hours ago
That guy standing by Cash in the dugout? All part of Raysí plan

That guy standing by Cash in the dugout? All part of Raysí plan

Jonathan ErlichmanFor a moment Friday, it looked as if a young businessman, accountant or computer guy had won one of those charity auctions to spend a game in uniform in the Rays dugout.Actually, it was Rays analytics director Jonathan Erlichman, a ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

For starters: Back to back starts for Duffy as Rays face Red Sox, 1:05

UPDATE, 11:36: Manager Kevin Cash said the plan is to play Duffy on back to back days a couple times early in spring, believing the short bursts of activity will best help him build up after missing all of 2017. … Matt Andriese will come out of...
Published: 02/24/18
The truth about the Tampa Bay Raysí reset

The truth about the Tampa Bay Raysí reset

The Tampa Bay Rays are not going to be very good this year.We already knew that.They have gutted a team that won 80 games last season. Among those sent packing: Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi and team MVP Steven Souza Jr.Yeah, this thi...
Published: 02/24/18
Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays spring training info: Saturday at Red Sox, 1:05

Rays Saturday scheduleAt Red Sox1:05, JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort MyersPitchers: Rays – RH Jake Faria, RH Matt Andriese, RH Dustin McGowan, LH Ryan Yarbrough, RF Chaz Roe, LH Jose Alvarado, RH Evan Scribner, RH Jose Mujica; Red...
Published: 02/24/18
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Published: 02/23/18
Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

Rasmus says he ditched Rays to spend time with family

SARASOTA — Colby Rasmus is making a new start with the Baltimore Orioles after taking an eight-month break from baseball.Rasmus signed a minor-league contract with the Orioles this week, after abruptly leaving the Rays in midseason. The contrac...
Published: 02/23/18
Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

The Rays won the home game of their opening-day, split-squad set, beating the Pirates, 6-3.1B Brad Miller, with an opposite-field double off the wall, and CF Kevin Kiermaier, with a bloop single to shallow center, provided the early offense.2B Daniel...
Published: 02/23/18
Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

PORT CHARLOTTE — One of the key story lines in Rays camp is seeing what kind of bounce-back season they can get out of a healthy Brad Miller, coming off October core muscle repair surgery.And while Miller isn't feeling 100 percent — he st...
Published: 02/23/18