Rays pitcher Jeffrey Springs is ready for the regular season

Notes | The left-hander has been “tremendous” in four starts this spring. Plus, Tampa Bay options Rene Pinto to Triple-A, sends seven to minor-league camp.
Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs delivers to the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of an exhibition game Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs delivers to the Philadelphia Phillies during the first inning of an exhibition game Wednesday at Tropicana Field. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | AP ]
Published March 22|Updated March 22

ST. PETERSBURG — Jeffrey Springs entered camp with a new contract and one big goal. The Rays left-hander, who transitioned from the bullpen last year, wanted to make sure he was built up and strong enough to be a workhorse this season.

“In the past here, I’ve been a little bit limited as I make the transition,” Springs said Wednesday. “So I, personally, I want to make 30-plus starts. I want to eat up innings. I want to be a guy who every five days goes out there and is gonna give you six or seven innings.”

Wednesday, Springs gave the Rays 4-1/3 scoreless frames in a 6-2 win over the Phillies. He scattered two hits, walked one and struck out eight. His efficiency was tremendous, throwing 44 of his 60 pitches (73%) for strikes.

It was Springs’ fourth scoreless outing this spring. He has allowed just five hits in four starts and has struck out 24 batters over 14 innings.

“He’s just a guy that’s in really good rhythm. The stuff has picked up right where he left off from last year,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s been super efficient, but that comes with strike-throwing. So he’s had a tremendous spring. He’s gonna have one more outing, we’ll get him probably around 80 pitches, and then he should be full-go for us.”

Springs said he feels ready for the regular season, just “fine-tuning” a few things at this point.

“Just tweaking a few things here and there,” he said. “But for me, the main goal is to be as healthy as possible and make as many starts and get as many innings as I can.”

Springs, 30, made 33 appearances, including 25 starts, last year, striking out 144 over 135-1/3 innings.

To be clear ...

After implementing its biggest rules changes in a decade, Major League Baseball has had to make some clarifications and tweaks. Wednesday, teams received a fifth clarification memo.

MLB reiterated that umpires can delay the start of the pitch clock at their discretion. The biggest clarification was that whether a defensive team violated the new shift restrictions will be subject to a video review only involving the first player to touch a ball after a pitch.

Though opening day is just a week away, Cash said he is confident the Rays will be ready, even with the recent changes.

“It’s OK. (The league is) doing a very good job,” Cash said. “We’ve had a memo come out just about every week. I’ll be on a call Friday that you can ask the questions to MLB ….. There has been a lot of changes, and they’ve been very available to everybody. So that’s worked out well.”

Game details: Rays 6, Phillies 2

Garrett Cleavinger threw 1-1/3 scoreless innings, striking out three, as the Rays brought out their big lefties. Cleavinger, acquired last year from the Dodgers, struck out three. Colin Poche pitched a scoreless ⅔ of an inning, while Jalen Beeks allowed two runs on three hits over two innings. He struck out two.

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Catcher René Pinto was optioned to Triple-A Durham. Right-handed pitchers Braden Bristo, Chris Muller and Zack Burdi; outfielders Ruben Cardenas, Grant Witherspoon and Niko Hulsizer; and catcher Nick Dini were reassigned to minor-league camp.

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