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Rays' Drew Smyly behind schedule after offseason injury

Drew Smyly strained a tendon in his left middle finger and says he didn’t know when he’d be ready to pitch.
Drew Smyly strained a tendon in his left middle finger and says he didn’t know when he’d be ready to pitch.
Published Mar. 8, 2015

BRADENTON — LHP Drew Smyly's delay in pitching in exhibition games is due to more than his preference for a different schedule than what the Rays use for other pitchers.

Smyly came to camp behind in his throwing program due to a strained tendon in his left middle finger that sidelined him for about six weeks during the winter.

As a result, the Rays are being cautious and monitoring Smyly closely, for both the finger and the overall condition of his arm and shoulder, which makes his spring schedule a question and could potentially impact his availability to start the season on time.

Asked Saturday when he was going to pitch, Smyly, 25, said he didn't know for sure.

He threw a bullpen session Friday and is tentatively scheduled for a simulated game Monday and to face the Orioles on Saturday. That would allow Smyly to make five exhibition starts before pitching the third game of the season, as announced. The Rays were careful with Smyly last year after acquiring him from Detroit, shutting him down early to keep him from getting much past 150 innings.

FOR STARTERS: Opening day starter RHP Alex Cobb was pleased with what he did and how he felt in his first spring appearance, allowing a double to No. 2 hitter Gregory Polanco and striking out two over two innings, throwing 23 pitches (17 strikes) in the 1-1 10-inning tie with Pittsburgh.

Cobb said pitching in the game environment and with adrenaline for the first time can be an adjustment, as was dealing with the new between-inning countdown clock for the first time.

Cobb also had to step off the mound a few times to get in sync with C Bobby Wilson, whom he was working with for the first time, but also praised him for getting some low strikes. "Me and Bobby had great learning moments this afternoon in learning how to get on the same page," he said. "It's a matter of what type of pitches and what counts that those locations would be in."

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Brandon Guyer will be sidelined at least a few days with a mild strain in the oblique/lat area on his left side after feeling "a little grab" during batting practice Friday. Neither Guyer nor Rays officials consider it serious, with no MRI exam planned. …DH/OF John Jaso left Saturday's game after being hit on the right leg "on the meat of the shin." Jaso iced heavily and was bandaged but otherwise okay, though uncertain if he would play today, when he was scheduled for outfield duty. … INF Nick Franklin also left the game after straining his left hip on a check swing and will be out of action at least today. "Took the pitch too quick, almost like a little half check swing," he said. "I guess I just did it a little too fast and aggravated it a little bit."

GAME ACTION: Tampa native Corey Brown continued a hot start by homering to put the Rays (1-1-1) up 1-0 in the eighth. … The Pirates tied it when Steve Lombardozzi doubled off RHP Dylan Floro and later scored when a pickoff throw by catching prospect Justin O'Conner hit him and bounced away. … Ex-Ray Sean Rodriguez had a chance to win it with two on in the 10th but grounded out to end the game. … OF Desmond Jennings made an impressive diving catch in left, where he will go back to playing on a somewhat regular basis, and had two hits. … The Rays were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

MY BAD: Cash took full blame for his first apparent managerial misstep, as small as it was: not sending a pinch-runner in for Evan Longoria until after the first pitch of James Loney's at-bat. "That was 100 percent my fault," Cash said. "I should have communicated beforehand with (pinch-runner Alexi) Casilla. … I kind of disrupted Loney, Longo. It won't happen again."

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MISCELLANY: Saturday's sellout of 8,303 was fourth largest in McKechnie Field history. … Friday's Cut for a Cure head-shaving event, including a donation from the Rays Baseball Foundation, raised $15,000 for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.