After five days without a win to their name, the Rays beat the Pirates 6-2 in Port Charlotte last night. Matt Moore continued to struggle with command, only pitching for four-and-two-thirds, giving up six hits, two runs, five walks and throwing a wild pitch. Neither Moore nor Joe Maddon seem concerned with Moore's shaky starts, as Maddon said that he is a "notoriously slow starter" and that things will "all of a sudden, boom" start clicking.
In rare fashion, Evan Longoria had two errors, but redeemed himself with a two run homer in the fifth. Ben Zobrist and Shelley Duncan both hit home runs as well, with Duncan leading the team this Spring Training with five.
Postgame the Rays made four more cuts, leaving the roster at 28. Duncan, Jason Bourgeois and Mike Fontenot were reassigned to minor league camp, while Chris Gimenez was optioned to Triple-A Durham; subsequently making Jose Lobaton the backup catcher to Jose Molina. It was a matter of options in the decision, as Gimenez has one remaining while Lobaton has none. Gimenez hit .368 with one home run and five RBI this spring, while Lobaton hit .257 with one home run and five RBI.
The Rays take on the Phillies in Clearwater today at 1:05 p.m. ET, with Roberto Hernandez making his final bid for the fifth rotation spot. Jeff Niemann pitches tomorrow against the Blue Jays, and the decision can be expected after Niemann's start. Maddon praised both pitchers, but gave no indication as to who will be chosen:
"Part of it will be feel. Part of it (is) sometimes you have to make your best guess, too, based on the fact you're getting limited chances to see each guy," Maddon said. "Both people have been successful in the past at the major-league level. Both people are capable of performing at a high level in the major leagues as a starting pitcher."
Fun fact of the day, via Jayson Stark:
"@jaysonst: With Derek Jeter heading for DL, here's a stat to mull: #Yankees will pay 3 IFs on DL more $ ($67.5M) than #Rays will pay whole team ($60M)"
Around the league:
It's official: the Rays will see Scott Kazmir opening weekend at the Trop.
- Jon Morosi provided his season preview of the Rays, and is convinced that they won't make the playoffs due to the departures of James Shields and B.J. Upton.
- New Arizona immigration laws + Spring Training = don't forget to bring your licenses, green cards and passports to the ballpark.
- The O's are happy to have a healthy Brian Roberts back with the team for 2013, after a long battle with post concussion symptoms and endless injuries.