Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Rays demote Tim Beckham following baserunning blunder in Boston

BOSTON — The Rays decided they had seen enough of Tim Beckham after his latest baserunning blunder, demoting him to Triple-A Durham after Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Red Sox.

A lot went into the defeat, starting with Drew Smyly giving up the lead after giving up a grand fifth-inning grand slam, and Erasmo Ramirez walking the leadoff man in the eighth leading to the decisive run.

But it was Beckham's lack of hustle on a fourth-inning play, after an overly aggressive bad decision by Kevin Kiermaier, that was most galling and led to the demotion, which was announced after the clubhouse was closed to media.

Beckham was on second in the fourth with a chance to stretch the lead to 5-1 when Kiermaier laced a ball to right-center. But Beckham didn't hustle home, and when Kiermaier was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double — even worse of move considering top hitter Evan Longoria was up next — home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom waved off the run.

That was Beckham's third baserunning blunder of this road trip. On Saturday in Houston he was caught between second and third on an infield single. On Sunday he similarly didn't hustle home, but the run counted when Luke Maile was called safe at second.

Manager Kevin Cash said both Beckham and Kiermaier were to blame for the play, but Beckham's mistake was more egregious.

"Definitely the not hustling," Cash said. "That is required of us and probably the easiest part to do in baseball."

Kiermaier was hard on himself for being unnecessarily aggressive, saying it was a bad decision in that situation, especially with strong-armed Mookie Betts throwing. Kiermaier called it 'a really dumb, dumb play on my part."

Beckham declined comment via a team spokesman.

NO SMILES: Smyly was cruising with a 4-1 lead, but that disappeared abruptly in the fifth. He opened by allowing two singles, made the mistake of a two-out walk to Betts that loaded the bases and then missed on a first pitch fastball to Hanley Ramirez, who launched it for a grand slam.

"Just one pitch, the whole game changes just like that," Smyly said. " I feel like I threw the ball better than the results."

MORE BAD: The Rays battled back to tied it 6-6 in the top of the eighth when Logan Forsythe, who hit a two-run homer earlier, delivered a two-run single. But then Ramirez took over and was the next to fail them, walking Ramirez and then giving up three straight hits, leading to two runs.

DUFFY DOWN: SS Matt Duffy was out of the lineup a day after being used only as the DH as part of the Rays' attempt to manage residual soreness from the left Achilles strain he was rehabbing from when acquired in the Aug. 1 trade with San Francisco.

The plans has been to limit Duffy to four or five consecutive games; he played six before DH-ing Tuesday, so Cash said the decided to further rest him Wednesday in advance of today's off-day, though he did pinch-hit, and walk, in the eighth. "We figured we could tie in three days kind of off his feet," Cash said.

After starting 15-for-40 (.375) with the Rays, Duffy is just 2-for-his-last-23 (.086).

COBB UPDATE: RHP Alex Cobb said he is getting increasingly excited about his upcoming Friday start, his first in the majors since September 2014 due to an elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery. "It's starting to feel more and more comfortable, more real," he said. "I'm definitely getting more excited for it."

Cash said Hickey will check with Cobb between innings on how he is feeling and there will be an 80-90 pitch limit.

TRAVEL PLANS: The Rays headed out after the game, planning to fly home to Tampa, but with travel director Chris Westmoreland working on several contingencies based on the impact of the storm hitting Tampa. The Blue Jays faced similar issues after their Wednesday night game in Baltimore.

FALL GUYS: RHP Brent Honeywell headlines the group of eight players headed to the Arizona Fall League to play for the Peoria team managed by Durham's Jared Sandberg. The others are Ps Kyle Bird, Diego Castillo and Greg Harris, Cs Nick Ciuffo and Justin O'Conner, INF Kean Wong, OF Justin Williams.

MISCELLANY: Cash said they may not announce any call-ups until Friday; one or two relievers are expected, then others next week. ... With RHP Steve Geltz officially optioned to Durham, RHP Jaime Schultz, who had a good season and was a possible September call-up, went on the DL with a groin issue.

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