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How many innings were enough in Rays’ loss to Red Sox?

Rays notes | The home run that put Boston ahead ended the shortened spring game — eventually.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said he thinks he and Red Sox manager Alex Cora “did the right thing” ending Thursday's game after Michael Chavis' seventh-inning home run.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said he thinks he and Red Sox manager Alex Cora “did the right thing” ending Thursday's game after Michael Chavis' seventh-inning home run. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 6
Updated Mar. 6

FORT MYERS — Add this to the list of questions the odd rules of spring training 2021 have raised:

When is a walkoff homer a walkoff homer?

On Friday, with his Red Sox trailing the Rays 5-4, a man on and one out in the seventh and last scheduled inning, Michael Chavis knocked a Drew Strotman pitch over the right centerfield fence.

Jonathan Arauz and then Chavis crossed the plate and ... players on both teams stood around awkwardly for several moments waiting for some indication of whether the game was over so they could react accordingly.

Under the rules for shortening the games (designed to limit the use of pitchers), the teams had agreed to play seven full innings.

Which meant the Rays could have kept Strotman — a prospect making his first appearance since being added to the 40-man roster following his recovery from Tommy John surgery — on the mound to get in more work than his 10 pitches.

“That one snuck up on me a little bit,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I think we could have (kept playing), but in my mind, that happened fast. I’m sitting there saying, ‘All right, we keep playing a mock game and then a pitcher hits a guy and then somebody gets hurt.’ I don’t know if that’s the right thing.

“I totally understand. I’m a fan of what MLB is doing with the rolling (early ending) of the innings. But there at the end of the game, there’s a letdown factor right there. The home run. Score changed. Just let it be over with.”

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Boston manager Alex Cora said he was fine either way and waited for Cash to indicate his preference.

“I think we did the right thing,” Cash said. “Obviously, we want Drew to get his pitches in. But at that point, we’ll make up pitches for him. It’s okay.”

The Rays were on the other side of the scenario Sunday, when Tristan Gray hit a walkoff homer with two outs in the seventh to beat Atlanta.

Castillo ready to go

Cash typically isn’t concerned with when or how often veteran relievers pitch during the spring, just that they are prepared to start the season. Diego Castillo worked a quick inning Friday in his first appearance and said he was good to go. “I feel ready mentally and physically,” he said.

Game details: Red Sox 6, Rays 5

Minor-league outfielder Moises Gomez had a rough first inning, dropping one fairly routine fly ball (on a likely sacrifice fly) and losing another in the sun, both leading to runs. He did make up for it with a home run to centerfield. “I was glad to see ‘Gomey’ come back and smoke the ball to center field,” Cash said. “He’s a young player. The sun played a factor, without a doubt, and (he) probably rushed himself a little bit trying to get (Kike) Hernandez tagging up. But it happens.” … Top prospect Wander Franco, who had his own long homer on Wednesday, had two singles, knocking in what was the go-ahead run in the sixth, increasing his average to .400. … Mike Brosseau hit his second homer. … Prospect Joe Ryan worked a 1-2-3 third inning.

Miscellany

• With rain forecast for much of Saturday, the Rays have plans to get some pitching and hitting work done in their indoor cages if the game against the Braves, and a simulated game featuring Chris Archer, are rained out.

• Non-roster veteran catcher Kevan Smith was scratched from Friday’s lineup due to back tightness; Joe Odom started.

• Cash said Yoshi Tsutsugo had an encouraging workout Thursday with coach Brady Williams, focusing on the footwork, positioning and nuances of playing first base.