SARASOTA — Charlie Morton wasn’t particularly pleased with his 11-pitch, five-strike, one-walk outing in his one-inning spring debut.
“I don’t know how to feel about that one," he said.
Manager Kevin Cash wasn’t the least bit concerned.
“It was encouraging," Cash said. “He wanted to go back out (for another inning). He’s not thrilled, happy with us. But that’s okay. We’re going to manage his workload. He’s fine. But he looked good."
Coming off a career-high workload at age 36, Morton’s spring preparation is a balance and a battle between not wanting him to do too much and making sure he does what he feels is necessary to be ready.
Tuesday, in the 15-2 win over the Orioles, he wished he’d thrown more than one off-speed pitch (a “yanked cutter slider"), but knows he has time. He claimed one of his prime goals was not to hit anyone, as he plunked two Orioles last year. He joked to Rays PR rep Karly Fisher that at least his four-pitch walk of Chris Davis was “efficient."
Morton said his spring prep has evolved during his career.
“For a long time I didn’t know what I was doing," he said. “I got really amped up and nervous for starts in spring even. I’d go out there and I’m trying to compete and trying to be super nasty, and a lot of the time it backfired.
“Now I know why older guys say they were ‘working on stuff.’ It’s like the old spring training cliché — you give up four runs, but ‘I was working on stuff.’ I guess I know why. I look back on that — 11 pitches, 10 of ’em fastballs, I don’t know. I’m not going to analyze it any more than what we’re doing right now."
Cash, again, was unconcerned: “He’s got how many years in the big leagues — 12? We’re not going to value whether he throws one breaking ball or 10 in his first spring training outing."
Game details: Rays 15, Orioles 2
The Rays (2-1-1) rapped 16 hits, including seven for extra bases, while the Orioles issued nine walks and made two errors. … Backup catcher candidate Michael Perez hit a three-run opposite field homer. … Brandon Lowe had a triple and a bases-clearing double, saying he has no residual issues or limitations from last year’s leg injuries while running. He is wearing a large shin guard, “the biggest one I could." … New outfielder Randy Arozarena had two more hits, and is 4-for-4 with two walks for the spring. “Unbelievable," Cash said. “He can find the barrel. … Jalen Beeks, Chaz Roe and Pete Fairbanks all had clean relief innings. … Non-roster outfielder Ryan LaMarre had two doubles and a single.
Wander Franco in a Rays uniform?
With two games on Thursday and a cross-state trip on Friday, there’s a good chance top prospect Wander Franco will get his first chance playing with the big-league team. Nothing is official, but Franco could come off the bench Thursday in Port Charlotte and be in the lineup Friday vs. the Nationals in West Palm Beach.
Good news for Kevin Padlo
Infielder Kevin Padlo, sidelined since the start of camp with a “non-baseball illness," is expected to be cleared to resume baseball activities around March 4. All tests so far have had positive results and Padlo is back in the Port Charlotte area, but no other information is available yet.
Players have their annual spring meeting with union staff Wednesday morning, but will meet offsite Thursday night with executive director Tony Clark in a multi-team session under a new format. Tyler Glasnow is the new player rep. … Yoshi Tsutsugo is slated to play third base for the first time this spring on Wednesday. … Rain is forecast for Wednesday, and if the game is canceled Blake Snell will do his scheduled throwing in the indoor batting cage, which he hopes to avoid. … Brendan McKay, set back with shoulder stiffness, is slated for a bullpen session on Wednesday, and if all goes well, to progress next to a live batting practice, then a game.