SPRING TRAINING: Duffy’s heel not progressing, Archer’s last real outing; preview of today’s Rays game

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

SARASOTA — Over the weekend it became evident relief pitcher Brad Boxberger won’t be ready for Opening Day.Another member of the Tampa Bay Rays realized a similar fate this week.

It appears as if a trip to the disabled list to begin the season is in the future for shortstop Matt Duffy, who is headed up back up to North Carolina today to visit Dr. Bob Anderson, the surgeon who repaired his heel at the end of 2016.

I’m going just to see if there’s something we could be doing differently,” Duffy said yesterday. “It doesn’t seem to be progressing the way we’d like, so hopefully we’ll go tomorrow and get some answers.”

When spring training began, Duffy and the Rays initially thought he’d be getting into games by now, but Duffy isn’t exactly sure what the issue is right now.

It’s kind of like flipping a coin. Some days it feels really good and other days it feels really bad. So I don’t know how to tell you exactly (what’s going on),” Duffy said.

In his absence, Tim Beckham will likely play a majority of games at shortstop, with Daniel Robertson, who probably wouldn’t have cracked the Opening Day roster with a healthy Duffy, seeing some time there as well.

Speaking of Brad Boxberger, the reliever will be at the Port Charlotte Walmart on King’s Highway tonight from 6-7 p.m. signing autographs for fans.

Someone who possibly benefits from Boxberger missing time is newly-acquired reliever Jumbo Diaz.

The 6-foot-4, 280-pound right-hander was placed on waivers by the Cincinnati Reds and claimed by Tampa Bay on March 10, but was down in Miami at the time playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Wednesday was his first day at Rays’ camp.

I feel prepared, especially in the classic, I was able to throw several innings and I feel ready to go and do the best that I can,” Diaz said.

He threw a bullpen session yesterday in Port Charlotte, and is expected to appear in today’s game against the Yankees or tomorrow against Pittsburgh.

In case you’re wondering, his birth name is Jose, but has been going by Jumbo since 2002 when he was with the Dodgers for a pretty simple reason: “There were two Diaz’, and since I was bigger than the other one, they called me Jumbo.”

Last night was the first time all spring Chris Archer has struggled.

If you include the World Baseball Classic and a minor-league outing, Archer had tossed 13.2 scoreless innings entering the game against the Orioles. He surrendered four runs (three earned) last night over 5.2 innings on five hits and two walks. He did strike out six batters, and allowed a two-run homer in the fourth.

Even though the numbers don’t scream good outing, Archer was pleased based on the game plan headed in.

I only threw six sliders, which typically I’m like 30-40 percent,” Archer said. “I threw a lot of change ups that had good action. My fastball command was good. … I’m really happy with how spring training is going so far.

Archer was scheduled to throw between 80 and 90 pitches in the outing, and just barely exceeded that with 91 pitches (58 strikes). He will have one more cool-down start before presumably being the Opening Day starter, although no such announcement has been made.

I’m really happy with the way Arch threw the ball,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He changed up his approach, worked a lot of fastballs and change ups. Like I said earlier, he’s having a really good spring and it seems like he’s in a really good spot.”

Today’s Rays game is a rare occasion where they’ll be on TV. Facing the Yankees, the game will be on ESPN with Jon Sciambi, Rick Sutcliffe and Doug Glanville on the call.


Colby Rasmus, Rays:
 In his third game of the spring, Rasmus picked up his first hits and RBI in a Rays’ uniform. He started his night with a run-scoring single and then came back with a two-run opposite-field home run.

Tyler Wilson, Orioles: 
He was the only pitcher to throw more than one inning without allowing a run or a hit. He struck out a pair of Rays and earned his third win of the spring.

Bottom 8th: 
Chance Sisco broke a 4-4 tie with a three-run homer in the eighth to score Joey Rickard and Paul Janish.

Daniel Robertson, Rays: 
Celebrating his birthday yesterday, Robertson went 3 for 4 at the plate with three singles. The now 23-year-old had just six hits in 37 at-bats entering the game.

“I feel alright. Still working through some things. Trying to figure out the best routine and trying to make sure I can stay on top of feeling good day-to-day and bouncing back.

Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus on his first good day at the plate since returning from injury.

NEW YORK-AL (19-7) at TAMPA BAY (11-12-2)

WHEN: Today, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte
SCHEDULED STARTERS: RH Austin Pruitt vs. LH Jordan Montgomery
RAYS: RH Austin Pruitt (start), RH Chase Whitley, RH Danny Farquhar, RH Shawn Tolleson, LH Xavier Cedeno, RH David Carpenter.
PIRATES:  LH Jordan Montgomery (start), LH Jason Gurka, RH J.R. Graham, LH Chasen Shreve

FRIDAY: vs. at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. SATURDAYvs. Boston, 1:05 p.m.SUNDAYat New York (AL), 1:05 p.m. MONDAYOFF DAY. TUESDAY: at Minnesota, 1:07 p.m. 

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