Three takeaways from the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 win against the Tigers on Friday:
1. It was good to see Xavier Cedeño and Alex Colome back on the mound. The two pitchers who are among the relievers being slow-tracked early in spring each pitched a perfect inning during their spring debuts. Colome struck out two.
Cedeño hadn't pitched since Aug. 29 when his season ended because of a sore neck. He said it felt strange because of the layoff, but it didn't look strange. He was his usual self.
Same with Colome.
"They're just so efficient," manager Kevin Cash said. "Sometimes they make it look easy out there, and it's not. They command the ball really well, and they get guys to expand because they command the ball so well."
2. 1B Rickie Weeks Jr. in camp on a minor league contract, will have to hit his way onto the Opening Day roster, Cash said.
That's pretty much expected. And if the first week of games is any indication (it's probably not, but what they hey), Weeks is on his way to earning that locker at the Trop.
His line after playing five games: 7-for-10 with three doubles, two home runs, six RBI, six runs, 16 total bases, a 1.600 slugging percentage and a .700 on-base percentage.
Weeks bristled at the term "locked in," but what else can you call it? Cash did, thought quickly took it back when he learned of Weeks' objection.
"We got to do a good job of keeping him that way, communicating with Rickie about his workload," Cash said. "He's playing first base, he's on his feet. That's why we got him out so quick today."
About that position. Weeks, a second baseman for most of his 11-year big league career, is learning how to play first base this spring.
"I played the infield for a long time," he said. "(Fielding) ground ball's nothing. Just learning positioning. Just be in the right spot. That's the main thing for me."
3. OF Mallex Smith finally got on the field after his scheduled debut was moved up a day because of the stiff neck that continues to keep CF Kevin Kiermaier out of the lineup.
He dropped a fly ball in center field in the first inning, but dropped a perfect bunt to third base in the second. That's something Smith can bring to the lineup – the ability to use his speed to get on base.
That Rays lineup could use some of that. Might turn some of their one-run homers into two-run shots.
"You can tell he's got pretty elite speed," Cash said. "He has a pretty defined approach to batting practice. I'm a little interested to see how that works in the game. He really focuses on and looks staying the other way, hitting the ball on the ground and utilizing his speed. If that's him, it's interesting in the fact we really don't have that guy. He could be something interesting."