LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Rays' lone roster decision that needs to be made is the team's fifth outfielder. What's known is the club wants a right-handed hitter, and that the two in-house candidates are Johnny Field and Brandon Snyder.The chance also exists that they will bring in somebody from outside
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Rays' lone roster decision that needs to be made is the team's fifth outfielder. What's known is the club wants a right-handed hitter, and that the two in-house candidates are Johnny Field and Brandon Snyder.
The chance also exists that they will bring in somebody from outside the organization, like Jose Bautista ... but the Bautista rumor doesn't appear to have legs.
According MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, two Major League sources told him the Rays were unlikely to sign Bautista.
Field and Snyder will "both get to play [Tuesday]," manager Kevin Cash said before Monday's 2-2 tie with the Tigers. "And at some point we'll have a conversation."
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The Rays play the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Cash told reporters that "the hope" is to make the decision and announce who will be the final player on their roster following the game.
Need for speed
While discussing the differences between the 2017 Rays squad and this year's edition, Cash emphasized that the team should be better in the field and "we've got some more team speed."
"We're going to utilize that [speed]," Cash said. "But when we utilize that, we want to make sure we're doing it in the right situations and that we're making right decisions.
"I think if you talk to any good baserunner, they probably will be the first to tell you that they have to -- it's an art. And you have to be able to feel it and anticipate it when you're on base. I've got to do a good job of getting out of the way of them and letting them do their thing [in regard to stolen bases]."
Cash said certain players would have the green light in certain situations.
"And in certain situations, everybody will have a red light," Cash said. "But that's standard throughout baseball. I've actually tried to ask a lot of our veteran guys, whether it's Denard Span, I know how Kevin Kiermaier feels about it, Carlos Gomez, how they've gone about throughout their careers, being successful stealing bases. We set the bar really high for our percentage success rate. That's kind of what we try to abide by."
Kiermaier said he has a new "setup" at the plate that allows him to "be athletic up there, and it allowed me to drive the ball to all fields."
"I'm just really excited about this year, because I feel like I'm a lot more comfortable with my stance at the plate and that's translated into confidence, into good at-bats," Kiermaier said. "Having quality at-bats, barreling up the ball. And being able to hit the ball to all fields. And that's where I can be very dangerous. Righty, lefty, I don't care. I can hit them both. I'm a lot better player when my confidence is going."
Kiermaier thrives on being competitive.
"We're all competitive," he said. "But for me, I always feel like I have something to prove to someone. It goes back to me being a 31st-rounder [in the Draft]. Not a whole lot of people thought I was good enough to be taken early. A lot of people passed on me. Same thing with my offense. I always want to prove to people that I can hit. I'm not an easy out. It's one of those things -- you better make good pitches or I'm going to make you pay."
Venters, Jennings moves official
Two moves that were reported Sunday became official on Monday. Jonny Venters has been officially re-assigned to Minor League camp, and left-hander Dan Jennings has been released.
Both were told Sunday that they would not make the team.
"It's an interesting situation," Cash said. "With D.J. not being around, [Venters] probably becomes really valuable to have around. That's my point of view. I guess we have to discuss it. He did a really good job this spring showing that he's healthy and showing that he can get outs."
Venters is trying to become the first pitcher to pitch in the Major Leagues after three Tommy John surgeries. Even though he did not make the Rays out of Spring Training, the chances are good he'll get a shot with the club this season given the number of relievers who normally shuttle back and forth between the Rays and Triple-A Durham.
"We know we're going to use our Durham roster heavily during the course of the season," Cash said. "But I think everybody on every team goes into the season knowing that there's always a chance for that."
• Chris Archer threw a bullpen session on Monday morning at Tropicana Field, and everything went well for the Rays' Opening Day starter. Archer took a comebacker off his right forearm in his last start. He will still start the opener on Thursday afternoon against the Red Sox.
• The Rays removed Jesus Sucre in the ninth inning of Monday's game after the catcher took consecutive foul balls off his face mask. Sucre was fine afterward.
• Nathan Eovaldi made his final Spring Training start on Monday and continued to impress. The right-hander allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out four in six innings. His fastball was still registering 98 mph in the sixth.
Quote of the Day
"That's a tough feat when you have to face him. The night before you have some nightmares."
-- Span, on facing Chris Sale, who will be the Red Sox's Opening Day starter against the Rays Thursday afternoon.
Up next: The Rays will host the Tigers Tuesday afternoon in a 12:35 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Jake Faria will make his final start of the spring for the Rays. Matthew Boyd will start for the Tigers, and the game will be available via an exclusive audio webcast on rays.com.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.