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Rays journal: Answers sought for Matt Duffy's slow recovery

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Matt Duffy (5) waits for his turn in the cage during batting practice before the game between the Cuban National Team and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Matt Duffy (5) waits for his turn in the cage during batting practice before the game between the Cuban National Team and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.
Published Mar. 22, 2017

BRADENTON — The reasoning for newly acquired SS Matt Duffy having heel surgery in September was so that he would finish his rehab in spring training and be ready to start the season.

But Duffy is still limited to drills and strengthening exercises, not yet having even run.

And the Rays are seeking answers for the slow pace of his recovery.

"I hope in the next few days we get a little more clarity," manager Kevin Cash said. "I think we're to the point now that some of these issues might not even be from the actual surgery, and I'm saying that in a good way. Maybe we get him checked out and it's something we can do something different with and treat a little differently."

Duffy had heel issues when acquired Aug. 1 from the Giants for LHP Matt Moore, leading to the Sept. 9 surgery, and he may go to North Carolina to see surgeon Bob Anderson. With Duffy out, Tim Beckham will be the starting shortstop.

A weird, scary at-bat

INF prospect Daniel Robertson said the eighth-inning at-bat in which a foul ball off his bat struck a fan was "the weirdest" of his career. It started when he couldn't find his helmet, so he borrowed a larger one but had to go "Little League-style, hat underneath, double flap." Next was the foul that struck an older male fan in the face, causing bleeding and a trip to the hospital for tests, though he was able to walk out. "I didn't know what to do after that, I tried to take a moment to catch my breath," Robertson said. "You don't want to see stuff like that." Then came a clutch RBI single that put the Rays ahead.

Cobb progress

RHP Alex Cobb continues to progress in his first spring since Tommy John surgery, working into the sixth and looking better as he went. Cobb has a long start (seven innings/105 pitches) slated for Sunday then a March 31 spring finale tuneup before opening the season April 5. "The amount of growth in between each start that I've felt is all I can ask for right now," he said. "Obviously I'd much rather say to you guys, 'Hey, I'm back, I'm good, I'm not thinking out there, everything is smooth,' but that's just not the case. But the finish line is in sight for me."

Game report: Rays lose 5-4 to Pirates

CF Steven Souza Jr. and INF prospect Patrick Leonard homered. … The Rays (11-11-2) lost on a walkoff single by Gift Ngoepe as Adam Frazier slid to avoid C Michael McKenry's tag after a strong throw from RF Angel Moreno. … Ex-Rays C John Jaso started at 3B for the Pirates.

Number of the day

$7.11 Price of upper deck tickets for Friday night home games with coupon available at — you guessed it, 7-Eleven stores, through a corporate partnership announced Tuesday.

Spring things

. RHP prospect Jaime Schultz continued his impressive spring despite allowing a walkoff single, working at 94-97 mph over 22/3 innings with better command.

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. RHP Alex Colome said he was glad to be back with his Rays mates and focusing on the season after an enjoyable WBC experience. He said his arm felt good and he figured to make two or three game appearances.

. Projected No. 5 starter RHP Matt Andriese threw 86 pitches over 42/3 innings against the Twins' Triple-A team in Fort Myers, allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out six.

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