PORT CHARLOTTE - The Rays blasted six homers, including two by outfielder Guillermo Heredia and a monster shot by Avisail Garcia, in beating the Red Sox 8-1. Joey Wendle, prospect Nate Lowe and Mike Zunino also went deep.
Garcia signed with the Rays as a free agent, having undergone right knee surgery after a rough 2018 season and then being non-tendered by the White Sox. He has felt good and looked good so far in Rays camp, and his 464 foot blast, over the boardwalk beyond the left-centerfield fence, was good evidence.
"I’ve been feeling great, working really hard, My knee is healthy, that’s the most important thing. I’ve just got to keep working, and do my thing,'' Garcia said. "It was a hard off-season, trying to rehab and get better every day. Coming in like this, how I feel right now, it’s amazing.''
Another highlight for manager Kevin Cash Sunday was seeing top relievers Diego Castillo, Jose Alvarado and Ryne Stanek work the final three innings “and throw the ball really well.”
Lefty relief candidate Colin Poche, who had been struggling, was better, allowing a leadoff walk, then getting a double-play grounder and a fly out.
Third baseman Yandy Diaz left after three innings, Cash saying he “had a great work day” and would have today off.
• Tommy Pham, who was planning for a week of DH-only duty to work on strengthening his shoulder, was scratched from Sunday’s lineup but said he plans to be back Tuesday. Cash said the shoulder “is not bouncing back maybe like he wanted it to” and will take “two days off of nothing.” Pham said he expects to be back in the outfield by the end of the week.
• Everything said by the Rays and written is that they have no plans to add an experienced and expensive closer. But there is a sense of a “never say never” sentiment as Craig Kimbrel continues to remain unsigned (and thus, in theory, less expensive).
• Nonroster catcher Anthony Bemboom had his right thumb in a split and was headed to the doctor after being struck by a foul tip. “It got him good,” Cash said. “Hopefully there’s no ligament damage or anything like that; he was pretty in pain.”
• The Red Sox brought the Rays their first sellout of the spring in Port Charlotte, with 6,983.
• Cash said there was no update on third baseman Matt Duffy (hamstring), except that he will be out at least a few more days
• Kind of a cool matchup in Clearwater Monday, with Rays Cy Young Award-winner Blake Snell facing Phillies $330 million man Bryce Harper.
Numbers of the day
464, 111, 35
Estimated distance in feet, speed off the bat and angle, via Trackman data, for the home run hit over the boardwalk beyond leftfield by the Rays’ Avisail Garcia. Also notable: Boston leftfielder Gorkys Hernandez didn’t move.
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Quote of the day
“I know this doesn’t sound good, but I don’t remember.’’
- Infielder Nick Solak, asked if he ever had been hit in the head by a pitch before Saturday, when he was and ended up in concussion protocol, and passed