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Ramping it up: Cash lighting fire under Rays

Manager looking for improvement, focus from pitchers as spring shadows lengthen
MLB.com @wwchastain

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A day after Kevin Cash offered a tacit reminder to his pitchers that he's expecting them to step up their game, the Rays' manager offered further elaboration when asked if he was concerned about sloppy play.

"I'm trying to think, I don't think there's been a ton of sloppiness on the position players side, with our guys that are out there," Cash said. "But the comment about the pitching, was, 'Yeah, you guys are getting built up. We're asking guys to get to their three- and four-inning marks, and they're not getting there. Let's set a goal to get our pitches in under the three- or four-inning pitching mark that's been set.'"

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A day after Kevin Cash offered a tacit reminder to his pitchers that he's expecting them to step up their game, the Rays' manager offered further elaboration when asked if he was concerned about sloppy play.

"I'm trying to think, I don't think there's been a ton of sloppiness on the position players side, with our guys that are out there," Cash said. "But the comment about the pitching, was, 'Yeah, you guys are getting built up. We're asking guys to get to their three- and four-inning marks, and they're not getting there. Let's set a goal to get our pitches in under the three- or four-inning pitching mark that's been set.'"

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He added: "Look, you play the game with pride any time you come out on the field -- understanding that you have to ramp it up and pace yourself. Look, we're all sitting in the office right now saying we've got 20-something ballgames left. It feels like it should be March 25 right now with the way the spring started. Saying that, I think we have to start gradually to ramp up. You want to be going really well with that last week heading into the season."

Evan Longoria, the longest-tenured player in Rays history, noted that "there definitely comes a time where the excuse of it being March 11 or only being Spring Training, starts to become an excuse for poor performance.

"And you can't have that in the back of your mind at all times and expect to turn that on April 2," Longoria said.

Longoria shared that he really wants his at-bats to be quality at-bats by the last week to 10 days of Spring Training.

"I want to feel like I'm locked in, on time, and ready to go," Longoria said. "And I'm looking for results at that point. ... Want to start to feel that success and that I'm ready to go. And I'm sure that that's kind of the message that [Cash] was trying to give to the pitchers. Let's go out and start competing and looking for results versus using the excuse that it's only March [11] and we still have enough time.

"... It's not only the pitchers. I'm sure he's just making an example of them. But if we were going out putting up just one run a game the whole spring, he'd be the same way. And it comes and goes. We're going to have days where the pitchers go out and throw shutouts and we don't score any runs. So it's time to ramp it up for everybody."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Evan Longoria