SPRING TRAINING: Another round of cuts, rotation announced, Jumbo debut; preview of today’s game

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

Rays Jumbo Diaz points at his first baseman during Thursday’s game against the Yankees (Sun Photo by Kat Godina).

PORT CHARLOTTE — Another round of cuts hit the Rays’ camp Thursday morning with no surprises of those headed back down to minor league camp.
Jake Bauers and Casey Gillaspie were the most notable names of the eight young players sent down.
“Casey made a big jump,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We probably heard more about Casey at the end of the year because he got to Triple-A, was challenged in Triple-A and excelled. You’re always a little curious if that’s going to play out when they come to camp, and I know it did.”
In addition to those two, Jake Hager, Andrew Kittredge, Neil Wagner, Dayron Varona, Patrick Leonard and Johnny Field were also reassigned to the minors.
Some of them made impacts in the game on Thursday. Hager had a crucial diving catch to preserve the lead in the seventh, Leonard had an RBI and Bauers drove in two runs.
Two places where surprises came were out-right releases of Jeff Walters and David Carpenter.
“Those are crummy conversations to have,” Cash said of having to release players. “Walt and Carp both came in and showed well. It came to a roster crunch. We have a bunch of pitchers slated to head to Triple-A and the last thing you want to do is an injustice to those guys or (Carpenter) and Walt.
The spring roster is now trimmed to 41 players, with another 16 names not making the opening day roster.
FINALLY ANNOUNCED
After much obvious speculation, Cash officially announced Chris Archer as the Opening Day starter for April 2.
Following Archer in the rotation, Jake Odorizzi will be the No. 2 starter, with Alex Cobb, Blake Snell and Matt Andriese following behind.
When it comes to the lineup, Cash says he won’t be spilling the beans on that one until April 1.
The Rays’ Opening Day opponent, the New York Yankees, wasted no time revealing their first starter, as Masahiro Tanaka was announced on the first day of spring training.
SHUTTING IT DOWN
Brad Boxberger will be taking a break for about a week due to his continued issue with his lat.
According to Cash, Boxberger will start all over again as if spring training just began after the week is over. That means we will likely see more of Boxberger in a Charlotte Stone Crabs uniform in a few weeks.
OWNER MEETING
Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg met with media prior to Thursday’s game.
Among other topics, he spoke about the continued work for a new stadium, ticket prices, expectations for 2017 and more.
Nothing he talked about is of pressing time, so there will be an extended look at what he said in Sunday’s edition of The Sun.

RAYS 5, YANKEES 5

HITTER OF THE GAME
Aaron Judge, Yankees: He was one of three Yankees to have a multi-hit game. Nobody on the Rays had more than one base hit. His one-run double helped the Yankees in the sixth inning.
PITCHER OF THE GAME
Austin Pruitt, Rays: Pruitt tossed four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits in that span. He had a nice outing with five strikeouts and just one walk.
KEY INNING
Top 9th: The Rays’ defense fell apart in the ninth, allowing Alex Colome to blow a save. Three errors in the inning gave the Yankees an unearned run to tie the game.
PROSPECT WATCH
Riley Unroe, Rays: At the time, Unroe made what was a crucial play in the field. On a chopper up the middle, which settled in no-mans land between the pitcher’s mound and second base, Unroe came from short and made a strong throw to first base to keep the score at 5-4.
THEY SAID IT
“He was gassed after that outing. Obviously he came as advertised with that big fastball. We’ll get him back out there two days from now and try to see how he responds coming back.”
— Rays manager Kevin Cash on the debut of reliever Jumbo Diaz

TAMPA BAY (11-12-3) at PITTSBURGH (16-8-1)

WHEN: Today, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: LECOM Park, Bradenton
SCHEDULED STARTERS: RH Diego Moreno vs. RH Trevor Williams
PITCHING PROBABLES 
RAYS: RH Diego Moreno (start), RH Chase Whitley, RH Danny Farquhar, RH Erasmo Ramirez
PIRATES:  RH Trevor Williams (start), LH Tony Watson, RH Daniel Hudson, LH Filipe Rivero, Juan Nicaso.
SATURDAY: vs. Boston, 1:05 p.m., SUNDAY: at New York (AL), 1:05 p.m. MONDAY: OFF DAY. TUESDAY:  at Minnesota, 1:07 p.m. WEDNESDAY: vs. Baltimore, 1:05 p.m.

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