Young Rays look to Archer for leadership

In the wake of veteran exits, pitcher elevates to alpha status

February 14th, 2018

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer believes in looking forward instead of in the rearview mirror.

The Rays' right-hander expressed as much when asked about the odd feeling in the clubhouse sans and Alex Cobb.

"I mean, not having Evan and Cobb is different," Archer said. "But to be quite honest, we've had so much time to digest it, we've turned the page. We respect everything Longo's done for us, and Cobb did for us.

"Longo's the best player to ever come through here in history. So there's some big shoes to fill on the position players side, but we have to turn the page. We can't dwell on it. We have to go out there and find a way to win ballgames without them."

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Archer believes the pitching has to lead the way if the Rays are going to be competitive in 2018.

"In order for us to be successful, we have to pitch at our top capabilities," Archer said. "We don't have to be anything more than what we are. But we have to produce. Just like on the position player side. Offense, defense. Everybody has to be clicking. We talk about that every year. But the pitching is our strong suit, and we need to ... take full advantage of it."

Archer knows he must be a leader for this year's team, which is not a new role for him.

"I enjoy it," Archer said. "... I've been doing that for a while now. And it started before me. [David] Price was doing it. ... It's been happening. It might be somewhat new to [Brent] Honeywell and [Jose] De Leon, but it's been happening, and I've already been in this role, with Longo, with Cobb, or without. That's why I don't feel like I need to do anything different. Just be me, and help encourage these guys to be the best version of themselves."

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Archer called the Rays' group of young pitchers "exciting" and he noted they "all bring different things, and different strong suits." Archer then rattled off the strengths of and , and mentioned that Honeywell, the organization's top prospect, "had the third-best season at Triple-A last season," before concluding: "That's encouraging. That means we're strong."

Speaking of the above-mentioned group, Archer spoke of Honeywell, who is talented and talkative. Honeywell has already noted that he didn't need anybody to hold his hand, and that he knows how to compete and he can push people.

"We've spent a lot of time together," said Archer when asked about Honeywell. "He talks a lot. I've already told him, until he gets some dirt under his spikes, he needs to keep it down a little bit.

"I'm excited to see him pitch. But you can't do all of that talking without ever throwing a Major League baseball in your life. He knows that. I say that to his face. And I have mad love and respect for him. But as far as him teaching other people, I don't know, I've never been in a clubhouse with him. As far as him competing, I know he's going to do that. At what level? We don't know yet. I'm excited to find out this spring."

Archer was asked if he saw any of himself in Honeywell.

"I think the competitive nature is definitely there," Archer said. "At 22 years old, I wasn't that vocal. I knew my role. There's some similarities. And there's a lot of differences, too. He's definitely himself."