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Rays journal: Chris Archer returns from WBC, on schedule for opening day start

Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer is scheduled to throw in a minor-league game on Thursday and extend to five innings/75 pitches.
Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer is scheduled to throw in a minor-league game on Thursday and extend to five innings/75 pitches.
Published Mar. 14, 2017

FORT MYERS — RHP Chris Archer made another right call regarding the World Baseball Classic, leaving Team USA on Monday to rejoin the Rays and remain on schedule to start the April 2 opener.

The Rays have Archer slated to throw Thursday, an important outing as he extends to five innings/75 pitches, although since they are off it will be in a minor-league game. With Team USA advancing to the next round in San Diego as a pool runnerup, it plays Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and it inquired to see if Archer would switch to be available, but he declined and will stick with the Rays' plan.

"Sitting down with Arch, we heard his thoughts, he heard our thoughts and we all came to the agreement in prioritizing that we're getting ready for opening day for the Tampa Bay Rays," manager Kevin Cash said. "Very proud of the way that he has committed himself to that, knowing how much value he holds on our team and that's where his priority is."

Archer could rejoin Team USA if it reaches the championship March 22, which is his next start date. He retired all 12 batters he faced in Friday's opener but sparked some criticism for sticking to the Rays' agreed-upon four-inning limit.

Also, the Rays expressed concern to Dominican Republic team officials for using RH closer Alex Colome in back-to-back games when they agreed not to; RHP Jake Odorizzi (who starts today) won't be added to Team USA for this round; and RHP Jose De Leon said he hadn't heard anything about joining the Puerto Rico team.

Mallex-facturing excitement

In just the first inning, OF Mallex Smith showed his tools, bunting for a hit, drawing an errant pickoff throw, moving up and scoring on fly ball outs and making a leaping catch to rob Twins 1B Joe Mauer of a homer. "I think I showed them a little bit," he said. "That's a heck of an inning." Smith will get more playing time over the next week.

Game report: Rays lose 9-4 to Twins

RHP prospect Jose De Leon, acquired for 2B Logan Forsythe, felt he took "a step forward" in his third outing, allowing two hits (one a three-run homer) and a walk over three innings and throwing 54 pitches (37 strikes). … RF Steven Souza Jr. had an eventful day, hit by a 96 mph fastball in the ribs, making a diving catch and lacing a ground-rule double. … Nonroster OF Shane Peterson, trying to get back to the majors, hit a two-run homer. … C prospect Nick Ciuffo picked a runner off third. … The Rays fell to 7-8-1.

Quote of the day

"You're gonna probably have to drag me off the field now that I'm coming back from (hip) surgery."

OF Steven Souza Jr. on staying in after being hit in the ribs by a 96 mph pitch

Spring things

. RHP Brad Boxberger (lat/back) threw a bullpen session in Port Charlotte and said he "definitely" will be ready for opening day.

. The Rays have two games today, with OFs Kevin Kiermaier, Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr. on the travel squad to Sarasota.

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