By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Jake Bauers’ second-inning destruction of a baseball was the story of the day for the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
The 21-year-old launched a shot down the right field line, over the board walk, landing on top of the 30-foot tall building which stands about 50 feet beyond the field.
“Really, really far,” was first baseman Logan Morrison’s estimation of its distance.
In reality, it was close to a 450-foot bomb.
“That one is probably going to be the longest one I’ve ever hit,” Bauers said. “I didn’t really feel it come off the bat. I don’t know (if it was) a fastball or a changeup.”
It was the second home run of Bauers’ spring. He’s now hitting .421 in eight games with six RBI and four runs scored.
LOMO AT FIRST
Sunday was Logan Morrison’s return to the field in 2017.
Morrison, coming off season-ending wrist surgery back in September, had appeared in two games this spring, but as a designated hitter.
“Everything was good with the wrist. The legs are a little bit tired, but other than that, I’m good,” Morrison said. “It’s just going to be an everyday, take care of it, do the maintenance and it’ll be fine.”
Morrison was tested immediately with the glove, fielding a ground ball on the first play of the game. He singled in three at-bats at the plate.
Kevin Kiermaier made his first gold-glove worthy play of the spring in the first inning.
The two-time defending gold glove winner made a spectacular diving catch to rob Jake Elmore of extra bases.
“It felt good,” the center fielder said. “We were shading my boy Jake Elmore to right-center field. … He hit it well, and I got a good bead on it. It’s one of those things I have to go full 100 percent back there. I went hard, and timed my leap perfectly. I was just happy to see the ball in my glove.”
RAYS 8, BLUE JAYS 2
HITTER OF THE GAME
Casey Gillaspie, Rays: Gillaspie couldn’t let Jake Bauers have the only major long ball of the day. He sent a shot over the board walk in left-centerfield to give the Rays a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning.
PITCHER OF THE GAME
Erasmo Ramirez, Rays: In his second outing of the spring, Ramirez threw two strong innings. He held the Blue Jays scoreless and hitless, but walked one and struck out another.
Bottom 7th: Following Gillaspie’s homer, Ryan Brett had a single to score Patrick Leonard. A few batters later, Willy Adames drew a bases-loaded walk to score Jake Hager. In total, the Rays scored four runs in the frame.
Casey Gillaspie, Rays: One homer wasn’t enough for Gillaspie. He came back in his second at-bat in the eighth inning to launch his second shot of the day. For good measure, he hit one as a righty and one as a lefty.
THEY SAID IT
“I always try telling all these pitchers who come to our organization for the first time, ‘I’m going to prove to you why I’m going to be your favorite center fielder you’ve ever had.’”
— Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier on his diving catch in the first inning.
TAMPA BAY (7-7-1) AT MINNESOTA (8-6-1)
WHEN: Today, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Hammond Field, Fort Myers
SCHEDULED STARTERS: RH Jose De Leon vs. RH Justin Haley
RAYS: RH Joe De Leon (start), RH Chase Whitley, RH Taylor Guerrieri, RH Jeff Walters, LH Justin Marks
TWINS: RH Justin Haley (start), RH J.T. Chargois, RH Alex Wimmers, RH Michael Tonkin, LH Ryan O’Rourke
TUESDAY: (split squad) vs. New York (AL) / at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. WEDNESDAY: vs. Boston, 1:05 p.m. THURSDAY: off day. FRIDAY: vs Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. SATURDAY: at Toronto, 1:07 p.m.