ST. PETERSBURG — Rays rookie OF Steven Souza Jr. is assembling quite a fan club.
After Friday's game Souza was leading the majors with 63 strikeouts, putting him on pace for what would be a record-smashing 239 for the season. He has three four-strikeout games.
But given that Souza, 26, is also the Rays top home-run threat, hitting coach Derek Shelton said there isn't much they can do as he adapts to playing regularly in the majors for the first time.
"It's an ongoing discussion as he matures," Shelton said. "It's something we have to continue to talk about, but in no way are we making a big deal about it. You very rarely see guys that are high-power, high-impact guys that don't have high strikeout numbers. But I think it's something he will get better with."
Of Souza's strikeouts, a high number, a major-league most 25 were called. (Baltimore's Chris Davis was second at 17).
One theory is that Souza's complaining about calls — in words and actions — may have earned a reputation among umpires that works against him. Charts that show pitches off the plate called strikes support that theory, and Shelton acknowledged they have talked with Souza about his actions.
"With any young player, they learn what they are supposed to do and not supposed to do, and we have discussed that with him a little bit," Shelton said. "But I think honestly in the last two weeks he's done a really good job of it. When you have maturation and you make a mistake you are going to move on from it, and I think he's done a really good job of moving on from it and acting appropriately."
BECKHAM DOWN, ENNY UP: Rookie INF Tim Beckham hit his fifth homer, and a 453-foot blast at that, but he was sent down to Triple-A Durham after the game so the Rays could add an arm to their bullpen. LHP Enny Romero, who began the season on the disabled list at Durham, will be recalled to give the Rays a long reliever after they had to use the bullpen heavily on Friday.
MOORE UPDATE: LHP Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery) will throw two innings in an extended spring game against the Orioles this morning in Port Charlotte, his first live game and potentially his last step before starting a rehab assignment, which can last a maximum of 30 days.
Depending on how Moore throws and feels, manager Kevin Cash said they may opt for a second extended spring game. "I don't think there's any point in rushing that rehab assignment to kick in," he said.
MORE MEDICAL: LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (shoulder inflammation) and INF Ryan Brett (left shoulder subluxation) will start rehab assignments on Sunday with the Class A Stone Crabs. … Cash said OF Desmond Jennings (left knee bursitis) and OF/DH John Jaso (bruised left wrist) are "starting to progress in a much better direction" but there is still no timetable for resuming full baseball activity or rehab assignments.
CROWD CONTROL: Though they didn't announce or promote it, the Rays are offering a lower-priced ticket during this homestand, selling bleacher seats in the TBT Party Deck for $7 Friday and Monday-Wednesday against Seattle, and for $13 today and Sunday. (The next lowest prices are $11 weekdays, $19 weekends.)
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The Rays, with the lowest average attendance in the majors, said it is part of their "dynamic pricing" policy in which they can make adjustments.
MISCELLANY: The Rays' 1 1/2-game division lead is their largest since May 4, 2012. ... Though Cash's decisions to use LHP Jake McGee in the eighth inning and RHP Brad Boxberger in the ninth in the two games both have pitched were based on matchups, he said they want to "give them some type, a sense of knowing."