Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Struggling Archer remains confident of solution

BOSTON — There have been plenty of suggestions flying around from amateur coaches, psychologists, schedule-makers and even hair stylists about what RHP Chris Archer needs to do differently to escape the worst slump of his pro career, evidenced by his 0-4, 7.32 start.

But Archer is confident he has the answer, that — in a way victim of his own success and stubbornness — he can best get back to doing good by being less concerned with being great.

"I think the root of it is I have to be in the strike zone more. … So it's about getting ahead early," Archer said Thursday morning.

"And then whenever I do get ahead, not trying to throw the most nasty pitch in the world because my "normal" is beyond average. It's just when you are in the heat of the moment sometimes you really want to rip on something, whether it's fastball or slider or changeup, and that takes away from the effectiveness."

Could there be other factors?

• Archer didn't have a routine spring of preparation, as weather and strategic scheduling forced his last three outings to be in the batting cage, a minor-league game and an intrasquad game. The Rays say Archer is healthy, and Archer said there is nothing wrong with his mechanics.

• Archer has acknowledged not having had his elite-level slider, and moved away from it in Wednesday's game to throw more changeups, the pitch he focused on during the spring.

• After working primarily last year with since-released C Rene Rivera, Archer has been paired in all four starts this year with new C Hank Conger, and they have not necessarily been in synch. And with Conger having major difficulties throwing out base stealers, Archer has to put a heavy focus on keeping runners close and being quick to the plate. (As a result, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Rays on Monday try C Curt Casali, who caught Archer once in 2015, seven times in '14.).

• Pitching coach Jim Hickey mentioned several other possibilities: Some slight flaws in Archer's delivery early on, opponents adjusting to Archer's repertoire, and the absence of early strikes to set up the slider and make it more effective.

Hickey said they "may try something a little different" in Archer's next bullpen session, but Archer, who has remained diligent in his prep and conditioning, has to battle through it.

"Ultimately that's going to come from him," Hickey said. "I think maybe I can help a little bit, but I don't have any magic potion in my back pocket that's going to take care of it. He's just going to have to get back to work."

MVP ERASMO? RHP Erasmo Ramirez has done everything the Rays have asked, and very well. Moved to the bullpen, he has provided clutch and dependable relief, as he did again Thursday, getting four huge outs and his fourth win. Asked to make a spot start last Saturday, he pitched effectively, and efficiently, into the sixth.

MVP? "There's no might about it," manager Kevin Cash said. "I think he probably is. He's been tremendous, he comes into any situation and continues to make big pitches."

Assuming they are not rained out tonight, the Rays were planning to start Ramirez again Saturday, but now may have to make other plans

HIT CLUB: OF Brandon Guyer had an adventurous day, getting on base five times (including three HBPs) but making a baserunning blunder and botching a ball in leftfield. Guyer has been hit five times this season after an AL-leading 24 last season.

MISCELLANY: Archer today is slated to visit the Dream Charter School operated by the Harlem RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. … 1B Logan Morrison (2-for-40) and SS Brad Miller (5-for-43) were not in the lineup as the Rays went very right-handed vs. Price and will do so again tonight against LHP CC Sabathia. … 3B Evan Longoria said he couldn't make eye contact with good buddy Price after his third-inning homer: "I have too much respect for him."

Comments
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Published: 12/13/17