03/12/14 The Heater
DUNEDIN — Rays OF Jeremy Moore doesn't consider himself a power hitter.
But his mammoth homer Wednesday against the Blue Jays easily cleared the 36-foot batter's eye wall in centerfield and likely went at least 450 feet.
That is, if it has landed yet.
"He crushed it," manager Joe Maddon said.
"It went a long, long way," 2B Ben Zobrist said....
After feeling flat and a bit of "dead arm" in his last outing Saturday, Rays RHP Grant Balfour felt markedly better after throwing 15 pitches in a minor-league game against the Orioles on Wednesday in Port Charlotte.
"I felt really good, felt strong,'' Balfour said. "I'm really, really happy with how it went."
Balfour received some treatment on his arm and got an extra day's rest, and said the results were significant. He also made a decision to ramp up his focus and intensity a bit and said that also helped as well....
RHP Jeremy Hellickson on Wednesday had his first throwing session since Jan. 29 elbow surgery and said it went well.
"Very encouraging,'' Hellickson said. "It felt really good.''
Hellickson made 25 throws at distances of 45-to-60 feet Wednesday, six weeks to the day after Dr, Koco Eaton removed "loose bodies" from his elbow in an arthroscopic procedure.
"It went really well,'' he said. "It felt like I thought. It's been feeling really good, but you never know until you actually get out there and start throwing. So it's very encouraging that it's felt as good as it has.''...
UPDATE, 10:31: Hellickson said his first throwing session went well, as he made 25 tosses from distances of 45-60 feet: "Very encouraging. ... It felt really good.''
UPDATE, 10:29: The Jays say it is still raining and no decision has been made yet on the game.
03/11/14 The Heater
PORT CHARLOTTE — There were still 20 days and three more spring starts until the March 31 season opener when Rays ace LHP David Price walked off the mound Tuesday afternoon, but he couldn't look more ready.
Price dazzled in five innings and 75 pitches in the 7-1 win over the Twins, allowing a run on a Jason Kubel homer and two singles, walking one and hitting one while striking out eight, including All-Star Joe Mauer....
03/11/14 The Heater
The Rays lead 2-0 and need one more win to clinch their second Knutson Cup, which goes to the winner of the exhibition season series with the Twins in honor of Dukes Knutson, the invaluably helpful press box attendant who has worked for both teams.
Zim on the flex
No, the Rays don't have 83-year-old Don Zimmer flexing. But they do have him talking on an entertaining video to promote their new ticket flex packs. See it at tampabay.com/blogs/rays....
Our video report and photo gallery from the Rays 7-1 win over the Twins on Tuesday. Video by Will Vragovic.
03/11/14 The Heater
PORT CHARLOTTE — The highlights of how well shortstop Yunel Escobar played were definitely dazzling, topped by a behind-the-back toss in Boston that still defies adequate description.
But what stood out more about Escobar's first season with the Rays — and what stood in direct contrast to the reputation that preceded him — was how he played.
"He plays the game as hard as anybody I've ever been around," third baseman Evan Longoria said....
The Rays further trimmed their spring roster today, reassigning C Curt Casali and three pitchers to minor-league camp,
Manager Joe Maddon spoke highly of Casali, saying, most importantly, "he's a major-league catcher.''
The pitchers reassigned were: RHP Santiago Garrido, LHP Braulio Lara, and RHP Sam Runion.
The moves reduce the camp roster to 52, which includes RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, who has yet to report....
Rays ace David Price was quite pleased with his performance against the Twins on Tuesday, striking out eight in five innings.
UPDATE, 4:23: The Rays went on to beat the Twins 7-1.
LF David DeJesus had two hits in his return to the lineup, and did SS Yunel Escobar and 1B James Loney.
Non-roster OF Jeremy Moore had his second homer, and non-roster OF Jerry Sands had another double that increased his average to .421.
Price said it couldn't have gone better, and it's probably the best he's felt in spring since 2009-10. Maddon said: "I don't think you can look any better.''...
The Rays continue to get creative in touting their new Flex Pack ticket program, producing a video of senior adviser Don Zimmer having the details spelled out.
UPDATE, 9:24: The Rays medical report is more encouraging today, as both 2B Ben Zobrist and RHP Joel Peralta said their stiff necks have improved and they expect to play on Wednesday.
Zobrist, who was scratched from Saturday's lineup, said he will DH on Wednesday in Dunedin, planning to get four at-bats. Peralta, who tweaked his neck reacting to a comebacker on Saturday, said he will pitch in a minor-league game Wednesday in Port Charlotte....
Our video report and photo gallery from Rays 6-2 loss to Red Sox on Monday. Video by Will Vragovic.
03/10/14 The Heater
FORT MYERS — Most expectations for OF Wil Myers' sophomore season have to do with his accomplishments at the plate. Manager Joe Maddon has big plans for his work in rightfield, challenging Myers to win a Gold Glove.
"To me that would be the epitome of him having a great second season," Maddon said. "He can do that. He's a really good athlete, he's got great instincts for the game, he runs well, his arm is throwing a lot better this year. … There's no reason that a guy like that — if he applied himself — does not have that opportunity or can't win the Gold Glove."...