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Rays' Chris Archer focused on improving command

Chris Archer hands the ball to manager Kevin Cash during Thursday’s start against the Rangers, when he threw 40 of his 90 pitches for balls.
Chris Archer hands the ball to manager Kevin Cash during Thursday’s start against the Rangers, when he threw 40 of his 90 pitches for balls.
Published May 12, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — As bad as his last start went, Rays RHP Chris Archer said there wasn't much wrong to fix as he takes the mound tonight against the Yankees.

"No reason to try to sharpen the stuff, just be in the zone more," Archer said. "Especially with a team like this who waits you out, (has) very patient, good, disciplined hitters. You have to be. And it's just a matter of getting back to that."

His problem Thursday against the Rangers, when he allowing five runs and lasted just 31/3 innings, stemmed from not throwing enough strikes — not with his fastball to get ahead, and, of greater concern, not with his slider to get outs. He threw 40 balls among 90 pitches and went to a three-ball count on eight of the 19 batters.

"I need to throw the pitches 4, 5 inches higher, start 'em a little higher, have them be on the plate more and not be out of the zone early," Archer said. "Because at this level if you are throwing the ball out of the zone, it doesn't matter how nasty you are or how close of a pitch it is, you just have to execute. And execute in the zone. And that's all."

SMYLY UPDATE: LHP Drew Smyly on Monday was still consulting and deciding on a course of action to get a second opinion and MRI exam on his left shoulder, which has a tear in the labrum, as the Tampa Bay Times reported late Saturday. Season-ending surgery seems likely, though Smyly could opt to first try a rehab program with hopes of getting back on the mound this season.

McGEE UPDATE: LHP Jake McGee (left elbow surgery) allowed a hit and a walk over one 19-pitch inning in his fifth rehab appearance Monday for Durham, with the possibility he'll rejoin the Rays this weekend in Minnesota. One indicator will be how McGee responds to pitching again Wednesday; he has been getting two days off between appearances. Another will be how he handles working the end of one inning and the start of another. "He seems to be bouncing back really well," manager Kevin Cash said.

MORE MEDICAL: LHP Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery) will throw a third live batting practice Wednesday at the Trop and another Monday in Port Charlotte with hopes to start a rehab assignment after that. … INF Nick Franklin (oblique) was 2-for-4 with two RBIs Monday in his fifth appearance for Durham and will start playing on back-to-back days, with a decision likely within a week on bringing him to the majors or optioning him to the Bulls. … DH/OF John Jaso (bruised left wrist) has started strengthening exercises but has yet to do any baseball activities since being injured on opening day. … RHP Kirby Yates (straight right pec) has been playing catch but has no date to move to the mound.

FOR STARTERS: Cash said they couldn't name a Thursday starter until seeing who was used in the interim. With RHP Erasmo Ramirez working Monday, rookie RHPs Matt Andriese and Andrew Bellatti are the in-house candidates.

LOGAN'S RUN: INF Logan Forsythe said he spent a lot of time thinking about Sunday's ninth-inning baserunning play where he hesitated on a liner to center and failed to score the tying run a 2-1 loss. "It wasn't a great read on my part," Forsythe said. "If I would have had a better read right off the bat, I would have been in there."

MINOR MATTER: LHP Blake Snell was named the Rays' top minor-leaguer for April after going 3-0 in four games with 21 scoreless innings for advanced Class A Charlotte, then getting promoted to Double-A Montgomery (where he has added 12 more scoreless innings). Biscuits OF Tyler Goeddel was named the top player after hitting .351 with two homers and 13 RBIs.

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MISCELLANY: SS Asdrubal Cabrera got two hits, leaving him one shy of 1,000 for his career. … Cash lost a replay challenge questioning if Yankees C Brian McCann was legally blocking the plate in the first, after a base­running mistake by Steven Souza Jr., who initially went back toward second on a one-out ball in the gap. … The previous smallest crowd for a Yankees game at the Trop was 13,217 on May 2, 2005.