Monday, February 19, 2018
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
What were Rays thinking in ditching Odorizzi, Dickerson, adding Cron?

What were Rays thinking in ditching Odorizzi, Dickerson, adding Cron?

PORT CHARLOTTE – Rays officials insisted Sunday they made the best deals they could in a bad market, trading No. 2 starter Jake Odorizzi for an unheralded Class A shortstop prospect and DFA-ing 2017 All-Star Corey Dickerson in essentially a swa...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Donít like Rays moves? Youíve got company in Longo

Donít like Rays moves? Youíve got company in Longo

Evan Longoria has said pretty much all the right things since the Rays traded him in December to the Giants.But the former franchise cornerstone felt strongly the Rays made the wrong move in designating for assignment Corey Dickerson and spoke out on...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays Journal: Early off-days lead to four-man rotation, Andriese in bullpen

Rays Journal: Early off-days lead to four-man rotation, Andriese in bullpen

PORT CHARLOTTE – Among many reasons the Rays decided to trade RHP Jake Odorizzi was that they didn't really need him. Or at least didn't need five experienced starters.Manager Kevin Cash confirmed Sunday a plan to use only a four-man rotation f...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Ellsbury ready to play, but where?

Ellsbury ready to play, but where?

By ROGER MOONEYTimes Staff WriterTAMPA – Jacoby Ellsbury reported Sunday and said all the right things when he faced the Yankees media for the first time this spring.He is excited to begin spring training. He worked hard this offseason. He is e...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Morning after comments on Raysí busy Saturday, dealing Odorizzi, Dickerson; adding Cron

Morning after comments on Raysí busy Saturday, dealing Odorizzi, Dickerson; adding Cron

Here are some of the comments from Rays camp this morning after the Rays' busy Saturday night in which they traded RHP Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for Class A SS prospect Jermaine Palacios, designated for assignment 2017 All-Star DH/OF Corey Dickerson...
Published: 02/18/18
ĎBabe Ruth of Japaní already talks the talk of an MLB pitcher

ĎBabe Ruth of Japaní already talks the talk of an MLB pitcher

TEMPE, Ariz. – Major league pitchers nowadays emerge from the womb, or at the very least arrive at the end of their minor-league apprenticeships, already knowing that the only proper answer to any question pertaining to your first stint on a mo...
Published: 02/18/18
Rays trade Odorizzi to Twins, acquire Cron from Angels, DFA All-Star Dickerson

Rays trade Odorizzi to Twins, acquire Cron from Angels, DFA All-Star Dickerson

The order from ownership to cut payroll stymied by the same market freeze that has stalled transactions throughout the game, the Rays on Saturday night burst into action with a series of somewhat confusing moves that saved them around $10 million.The...
Published: 02/17/18
Updated: 02/18/18
Who was right in Archer-Honeywell exchange? How about both?

Who was right in Archer-Honeywell exchange? How about both?

ROSTER REPORTFirst of our weekly semi-educated guesses at the makeup of the 25-man opening day roster, projecting that Jake Odorizzi and Denard Span will be traded:PITCHERS (12): Jose Alvarado, Matt Andriese, Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Nathan Eovaldi...
Published: 02/17/18
For Rays Wilson Ramos, horrors of 2011 kidnapping remain

For Rays Wilson Ramos, horrors of 2011 kidnapping remain

PORT CHARLOTTE – Lying on the floor of a Venezuelan mountain hideout as his kidnappers and would-be rescuers exchanged gunfire for more than five minutes, Wilson Ramos, understandably, feared the worst."Everything I was thinking in that moment ...
Published: 02/17/18
Denard Span happy to be with Rays now, would be happier March 29

Denard Span happy to be with Rays now, would be happier March 29

PORT CHARLOTTE – OF Denard Span was truly happy to be here in Rays camp on Saturday.But the Tampa product said he'll be much happier – and more relaxed – if he actually makes it to the regular season with his hometown team.The Rays ...
Published: 02/17/18