Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Wade Davis has first poor outing of spring training

FORT MYERS — RHP Wade Davis looked so good in his first two exhibition outings, there was talk about whether he was ready to win the fifth starter's spot. Sunday, the 23-year-old right-hander showed why he isn't and instead is likely soon headed back to Triple-A Durham.

Davis was inconsistent and ineffective, struggling with command and location of his fastball, allowing six runs on eight hits (including two homers) in 22/3 innings of the Rays' 8-2 loss to Boston.

"You can't throw the ball up and down the middle a whole lot," Davis said.

Manager Joe Maddon said Davis' velocity and breaking balls were good, but the basic difference was obvious.

"The last couple games we were talking about afterward how he had great down angle to his fastball," Maddon said. "He threw a couple like that, but without any kind of consistency."

Davis is one of the game's top pitching prospects, and the Rays are confident that in time, and with more consistency, he will be a front-of-the-rotation starter.

"You want to see him become more accomplished at throwing the ball downhill more consistently," Maddon said, "because if he does, he's going to be very good here for a long time."

JOYCE UPDATE: With a welcomed diagnosis of tendinitis and the aid of a brace or air cast, OF Matt Joyce is expected to finally get on the field this week.

Joyce, 24, has been sidelined all spring by discomfort in his lower right leg, and he and the Rays were growing increasingly concerned about the cause. But after a series of exams and tests yielded the diagnosis of tendinitis, which they believe he has had for a while, they are now hopeful he can play through it.

"I think all of us kind of feared that it may be something worse, so it was very good news," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "We're cautiously optimistic that this is behind us, but in the event that it flares back up and prevents him from playing, we're going to have to explore other courses of action."

Joyce, the Brandon area product acquired in a trade from Detroit, will work into playing shape slowly, taking fly balls and hitting tossed balls. There is no timetable for his first exhibition appearance. He was likely headed to Triple-A Durham to start the season anyway.

"We want to get him back out there, get him moving and kind of test it a bit more than anything, and see where we're at," Maddon said.

BALFOUR SORE: RHP Grant Balfour's right arm was colorfully bruised, noticeably swollen, very sore and felt tight as the result of being hit by a line drive Saturday, but he is expected to miss only a day or two.

"It's a little tight, but it didn't bruise too bad," Balfour said. "It's like it feels fat."

His second spring outing was scheduled for Tuesday. With Wednesday an off day, it may be Thursday until he gets back on the mound.

SPECIAL K: LHP Scott Kazmir had hoped to be with teammate J.P. Howell pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic this week; instead he's making a long-awaited two-inning exhibition debut today in Port Charlotte.

"I'm excited," Kazmir said. "To be honest, watching the game (Saturday), watching J.P., it kind of hurt a little bit, wishing I was out there helping out. It's going to be good just to get out there. It feels like it's been forever.

"It feels like when you wake up, you need to be doing something right now. It feels like you're so behind, but the truth of it is you're not. We've got that extra couple weeks and we're going to be good to go."

GAME DETAILS: Ex-Rays Julio Lugo (3-for-3) and Nick Green (2-for-3 with a homer) did a lot of the damage as the Sox grabbed an early 7-0 lead, and the Rays (5-5) helped by missing a few cutoff men. … Ex-Ray Rocco Baldelli reached on a fielder's choice and scored from second, then struck out and popped out.

MISCELLANY: DH Pat Burrell is scheduled to rejoin the team and bat cleanup today after spending the weekend in San Francisco for his sister's wedding. … 1B Carlos Peña dashed to make a diving catch of a foul ball and said all felt good in his second game, with no issues from his abdominal surgery. … Ex-Ray Delmon Young is expected to be with the Twins today.

Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Wade Davis has first poor outing of spring training 03/08/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 9, 2009 8:22am]

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