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Youngsters impressing at Rays' camp

Rivera, Moore and Odorizzi also stand out to Cash
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Following Saturday's abbreviated workout at Charlotte Sports Park, Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters he has liked what he's seen from the young hitters on the team thus far in camp.

"I was talking to [instructor] Bill Evers, and there's a difference this camp early on as far as -- we had [Major League] hitters, and no discredit to the Minor League guys -- but there was a gap [last year]," Cash said. "We think we've gotten better big league hitters now, but our younger players have really begun to impress.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Following Saturday's abbreviated workout at Charlotte Sports Park, Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters he has liked what he's seen from the young hitters on the team thus far in camp.

"I was talking to [instructor] Bill Evers, and there's a difference this camp early on as far as -- we had [Major League] hitters, and no discredit to the Minor League guys -- but there was a gap [last year]," Cash said. "We think we've gotten better big league hitters now, but our younger players have really begun to impress.

"I guess my point that I'm trying to make is, [Richie] Shaffer, [Mikie] Mahtook, [Tim] Beckham, [Taylor] Motter, those guys, if they're in a group with Longo, DJ, Dickerson, whoever, they fit right in. Last year, you would have noticed, 'Younger player, he doesn't fit in.' But the way the ball comes off these guys' bats [this year] has been great."

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Cash's comments didn't mean that the older players haven't looked good as well. He specifically cited catcher Rene Rivera for swinging well.

"I thought Rene Rivera looked really good in his approach today," Cash said. "He faced Adam Wilk, but he was aggressive, in the zone, and it was nice to see what he had worked on so hard transitioned into the live BP session. … He simplified some things, and he was spraying line drives all over the park."

Headlining the pitchers working on Saturday were starters Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi.

Cash said Moore resembled the same Moore who finished strong last season after returning from Tommy John surgery.

"I think we're just excited to have him out there," Cash said. "[Moore] was a huge piece that wasn't there last spring. To see him going around and being involved with everybody else is good. If he maintains that kind of stuff and command, he's going to have a good year."

Odorizzi said his live batting-practice session went well.

"My arm felt really good, kind of surprisingly well for so early in the morning," Odorizzi said. "Everything came out good, throwing strikes and hitters were swinging, so that is always a good gage. Sometimes live BP, everyone kind of tracks pitchers, so I had a good group of swingers, so that was nice."

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Odorizzi noted that he got some good feedback on his pitches.

"When you throw a bullpen, you think a pitch is going to get crushed, that's going to get hammered," Odorizzi said. "But you throw it in live BP, and they swing and they miss or pop it up or weak hit it. It's good to get that feedback. When guys are swinging at them and you get weak contact, that's better."

Cash said there is still no update for when Steven Souza Jr. (left intercostal strain) will be ready to resume full activity. However, the Rays' outfielder reported that he's feeling a lot better.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays, Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi, Rene Rivera