The Rays are not yet, in manager Kevin Cash’s vernacular, “overly” concerned about third baseman Matt Duffy’s lingering left hamstring issue, a reasonable position since they still have 3 ½ weeks until opening day.
But they have to have some level of anxiety, given that Duffy had to miss Saturday’s game in Port Charlotte due to tightness just two days after making his week-delayed spring debut on Thursday.
“Obviously, it’s not ideal when a guy misses a couple of days and he comes back, you want to see him get in there consistently,” Cash said in Dunedin. “But appreciate Duff for being honest about it so he’s not going to push something and it lingers all spring.”
Duffy told head athletic trainer Joe Benge on Friday that the hamstring wasn’t “feeling quite right,’” and Cash said the Rays want to be cautious, given that Duffy has had previous hamstring issues that sidelined him. Cash said they hope to have him back on the field within a week.
The Rays and Duffy were optimistic when he came into camp stronger after an extensive off-season training regimen in which he added 23 pounds.
In Dunedin, a big day for B. Lowe
Brandon Lowe went 4-for-5 with six RBIs in the 6-5 win over the Blue Jays, rapping two doubles and a home run. “Just got to bottle what I did up today and save it for the season,’’ said Lowe, who also showed his versatility moving from first base to leftfield. “Make sure I get the feels that I had today every day for the rest of spring and hopefully the next 100 and something games after.’’ … Wilmer Font felt good after his first spring outing, allowing a two-out homer to Justin Smoak. Font said he was “excited and ready” for game action, held back to Saturday after an extended rehab from a late June lat strain. … Relief candidate Emilio Pagan stood out again, working two scoreless innings, striking out three. “That guy seems pretty motivated to come in and impress and he’s doing it,’’ Cash said.
In Port Charlotte, an up and down afternoon
Starter Tyler Glasnow had a 1-2-3 first inning and a two-hit, two-walk messy one-third of a second in the 11-3 loss to the Phillies that snapped a five-game winning streak for the Rays (5-5), most concerningly throwing only 18 strikes in 40 pitches. “I know today wasn’t exactly the greatest “get ahead” and strike-throwing day but it was a little better in the first and I think as I build up everything can kind of come into place,’’ said Glasnow, acknowledging some fatigue in the second inning. … Sizzling infielder Daniel Robertson rapped a double, though his 1-for-3 day dropped his average to .538 (7-for-13). … Diego Castillo allowed two hits and struck out two in his inning. … Andrew Velazquez impressed again at shortstop.
Catching up with Charlie
The Dunedin Stadium field was full of handshakes and hugs before the game as Rays players and staff saw a familiar face in a different uniform, longtime coach and minor-league manager Charlie Montoyo as the new Blue Jays manager. There also was some of the usual joking around. “No Vlad, Jr?!" Cash yelled at Montoyo, referencing the top Jays prospect not being in the lineup “You know, I wanted to give you a chance,” Montoyo joked. And while Cash was doing a pre-game interview with Neil Solondz, Montoyo pulled out his phone to video him. Montoyo will get the full welcome back treatment Thursday when the Jays come to Port Charlotte.
* Matt Quatraro, promoted this season from third-base coach to bench, managed the team in Port Charlotte, and said he’d one day like to run his own team. “I would love an opportunity to do that at some point,’’ he said. Quinton McCracken, hired as a coach at Triple-A Durham, worked first base.
* Ryne Stanek will be on the mound to begin Sunday’s game against the Pirates; “first opener of the spring,’’ he said.
* Attendance on a sunny Saturday in Port Charlotte against the Phillies was just 3,804.
* With the small matter of Bryce Harper’s introductory press conference in Clearwater, no Philadelphia media or team PR people made the trip.
Quote of the day
“I feel like when you’re dirty at least you did something for the team.’’
- Emilio Bonifacio, his uniform caked after going 2-fo-2 and playing centerfield.