Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Matt Joyce pegs return at two weeks

ST. PETERSBURG — While the return date of 3B Evan Longoria remains unclear, OF Matt Joyce is "pretty optimistic" he will be back in the Rays lineup within two weeks.

Joyce, out since mid June, said he feels good, has been hitting and running, and will participate in full workouts with the team over the next few days with plans to start a rehab assignment sometime next week.

Joyce was first sidelined with a mild oblique strain. Then during a July 4 rehab appearance with Triple-A Durham, he sustained "a separate kind of injury" that he described as "a little strain" of his lower back, acknowledging now he was trying to rush back.

"Right now I feel great," he said. "I've had a bunch of days off and a chance to let everything heal and rest."

Manager Joe Maddon said the two-week window was a "reasonable" time frame if Joyce has no additional setbacks.

TOP PICK CLOSE: The Rays and top draft pick Richie Shaffer were considered close to a deal as of Thursday night and expected to finalize terms in advance of this afternoon's signing deadline.

Shaffer, taken 25th overall, is a power-hitting third baseman from Clemson. The "value" for his draft slot is $1,725,000. With Shaffer, the Rays will have signed their top 13 picks and 36 of 40 overall.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Sam Fuld is likely to beat both Joyce and Longoria back. Fuld, recovering from spring right wrist surgery, has played in four rehab games for Class A Charlotte, going 1-for-10. … RHP Jeff Niemann, out since May with a broken leg, is "coming along well," Maddon said, but likely looking at an August return. … C Robinson Chirinos, who sustained a concussion in spring training, may end up being out for the season.

FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE: In an effort to improve overall play, Maddon has added extra individual and small-group work sessions to the pregame routine for the 10-day homestand that starts tonight, focusing on subjects such as bunting, situational hitting and defense.

"Nothing dramatic, just routine-based," Maddon said. "It's just the way it's going to be set up."

Maddon also addressed the group at Thursday's nonmandatory workout, suggesting they stop focusing on when their injured teammates are coming back, "to not worry about what we're missing. Let's go with what we've got and make this work because I believe we can."

SHOW AND TELL: Twenty of the 25 active players showed up for the nonmandatory workout. Missing were pitchers Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, James Shields (who joined Longoria at the ESPYs in Los Angeles), and All-Stars David Price and Fernando Rodney. Joyce and Niemann were also there.

MISCELLANY: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who starts tonight, said he is aiming to be more aggressive and pitch more to contact in the second half of the season. … Sunday's win at Cleveland was the major-league-high sixth time the Rays won when trailing going into the ninth, all without extra innings.

Comments
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

ST. PETERSBURG – Rookie 1B Jake Bauers has impressed at the plate and in the field since his June 7 promotion.Also, with his hustling on the bases."I knew he played hard; everybody said that at every level,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I di...
Published: 06/21/18
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Published: 06/21/18
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Published: 06/20/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Published: 06/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Published: 06/20/18
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Published: 06/20/18
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18