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Tampa Bay Rays rainout scrambles Joe Maddon's pitching plan

COVERED: Brandi Diaz, left, and Angela Phillips, both of Brandon, were supposed to participate in an event for the Brandon High band, but the Rays-Yankees game in Tampa was rained out.

Associated Press

COVERED: Brandi Diaz, left, and Angela Phillips, both of Brandon, were supposed to participate in an event for the Brandon High band, but the Rays-Yankees game in Tampa was rained out.

TAMPA — Manager Joe Maddon said the decision to cancel Monday night's Rays-Yankees spring training game was right, considering how bad the storm was.

But Tampa Bay's first rainout of the spring forced Maddon to make quick decisions on how to handle final preparations for the season.

RHP James Shields, scheduled to go four innings Monday night, will throw two innings in a simulated game today at Tropicana Field, where several Rays will work out.

RHP Adam Russell and LHP Jake McGee, slated to make the second of back-to-back appearances Monday, will also pitch today at the Trop.

Despite the postponed start, pitching coach Jim Hickey said, Shields remains on schedule to pitch against the Orioles on Saturday.

"It's not ideal by any means, but it's also not the end of the world," Hickey said. "You wish it wasn't the start prior to his first regular-season start, but he's as ready as he's going to be. The four innings (Monday) wouldn't have honed him any more than he already was."

Maddon said the only disappointment was that several regulars — including 3B Evan Longoria, LF Johnny Damon and CF B.J. Upton — were supposed to play deep into the game.

Instead, Maddon said, the regulars will play longer in Wednesday's spring exhibition finale at the Trop and not just have a "cameo," with Thursday's off-day giving them rest for Friday's opening day.

Maddon said the players who were expected to make today's trip to Fort Myers to face the Red Sox will still do so.

"It's supposed to rain there (today), too," Maddon said.

ROSTER, ETC: The Rays have returned Rule 5 pick LHP Cesar Cabral to the Red Sox.

Cabral looked impressive at times in camp but was inconsistent, and the Rays were not confident he could handle the jump from Class A to the majors. Cabral cleared waivers, and the Rays get back $25,000 of the $50,000 Rule 5 fee. The Rays considered trade possibilities but couldn't find a deal.

"It's a tough one; he did so well, and he's such a great kid and he fits in here so nicely," Maddon said. "Who knows? We'll see what's going to happen if we're able to get him back somehow. I liked him; we all liked him. He's got some pretty good stuff."

MINOR MATTERS: Hickey said LHP prospect Matt Moore, who will start in Double-A Montgomery, was impressive in an intrasquad game Monday in Port Charlotte.

With the minor-league game canceled, Moore faced the Rays' Triple-A team, striking out nine of the first 12 batters. Moore led the minors in strikeouts last season with Class-A Charlotte.

"He's got a very nice delivery," Hickey said. "He's able to repeat his delivery, got a real nice direction to home plate. Virtually every fastball that I saw was in the 94 (mph) range; he threw 96 to strike out (INF Ray Olmedo). … You've got a guy who is in control of his body and (has) probably three major-league quality pitches right now. That certainly bodes well for us in the future."

RHP Kyle Farnsworth was in the intrasquad game and threw "very well," Hickey said.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays rainout scrambles Joe Maddon's pitching plan 03/28/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 28, 2011 9:48pm]
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