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Bauers turns heads with moonshot

Duffy, Hechavarria return to action; Gomez, Faria, Venters take part in sim game
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The legend of Jake Bauers grew a little more on Tuesday afternoon.

The Rays' No. 5 prospect arrived at camp after putting on a memorable power display last spring. In particular was the ball he hit onto the roof of the Rays' offices in right field. On Tuesday, Bauers trumped that one with a majestic shot off Red Sox starter Hector Velazquez in the second inning of Tampa Bay's 9-1 loss.

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The legend of Jake Bauers grew a little more on Tuesday afternoon.

The Rays' No. 5 prospect arrived at camp after putting on a memorable power display last spring. In particular was the ball he hit onto the roof of the Rays' offices in right field. On Tuesday, Bauers trumped that one with a majestic shot off Red Sox starter Hector Velazquez in the second inning of Tampa Bay's 9-1 loss.

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"[Tuesday's blast] definitely went farther [than last spring's], a little better contact," Bauers said. "That's all I got. So don't expect anything more than that."

According to Bauers, Chris Archer yelled to him just before he stepped into the batter's box, saying, "Show me something."

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"I said, 'I got you,'" Bauers said. "I didn't waste any time. I wanted to show him something."

Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was asked about the home run and he replied: "Ooof!" According to team translator Manny Navarro, that translated to "Ooof!" in English.

Asked to articulate what hitting such a home run feels like, Bauers smiled. "You almost black out a little bit."

"You don't feel it off the bat," Bauers said. "You kind of got to remember where you're at. Then you have to get around the bases."

Despite the power show, Bauers is a long shot to make the team based on the business of baseball and service time. That reality hasn't changed Bauers' approach.

"My mindset, I've said it before and I'll say it again, is I'm here to try and win a job," Bauers said. "And how my way of doing that is play hard, do whatever I can to show them I can hit, I can play defense, I can run a little bit, steal bases if I need to. I don't know what they want to see. But I know that playing hard is going to benefit me the most."

Left side back intact

The left side of the Rays' infield returned on Tuesday, with Matt Duffy back at third and Hechavarria at shortstop. Each had been nursing a minor mallady.

Duffy had back spasms and Hechavarria tightness behind his right knee. Both appeared no worse for the wear.

Hechavarria went 3-for-3 with a double and two singles, and made a nice play with a drawn-in infield in the first when he threw out Ivan De Jesus Jr. at the plate.

"I feel really good," Hechavarria said. "I felt good after I came back. A little lesson learned."

Hechavarria injured himself initially when he wore sneakers during infield drills and slipped. When asked if he will wear spikes next time, Hechavarria smiled: "Oh yeah, for sure."

Duffy, who went 1-for-2, showed well in the field, too, making a nice play on Rusney Castillo's chopper in the fifth. After moving to the line to field the ball, he snapped off a quick throw to catch the speedy Red Sox outfielder. Then with a shifted infield in the sixth, Duffy was the pivot man in an inning-ending 4-5-3 double play.

"I feel fine," said Duffy, who missed all of the 2017 season after heel surgery. "Back feels fine, and the heel feels better than when my back started to hurt. I feel great. ... [The back problem] is just one of those things I've dealt with in the past. Sometimes I'll have to take a little time off. Spring Training, probably best to just take care of it."

Gomez, Faria, Venters participate in sim game

The Rays held a simulated game on one of the back fields at the Charlotte Sports Complex on Tuesday morning, which was noteworthy given the players who took part in the action.

Free-agent signee Carlos Gomez, who just joined the team, looked ready for action, going 1-for-3 in the contest. But he dropped a fly ball in right field.

Jake Faria, who will be in the starting rotation, allowed a run on a hit and a walk while striking out three in three innings. Manager Kevin Cash told reporters Faria wasn't pitching in the back-field sim game to keep from pitching against the Red Sox.

Jonny Venters continued to shine, allowing a hit and striking out two in 1 1/3 innings. And Brad Miller, who has been nursing a broken right pinky toe, went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.

Also seeing action in the game were Ryne Stanek, Sergio Romo and Daniel Robertson.

Duffy and the Taylor Hooton Foundation

Taylor Hooton Foundation President Donald Hooton Jr., and Rays strength and conditioning coordinator Trung Cao presented Duffy with a canvas print of his 2018 "It's All Me" public service ad. The presentation was made in a pregame ceremony before the Rays hosted the Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation is widely acknowledged as the leader in the advocacy against appearance- and performance-enhancing substance use by the youth of America.

Camp battles

Chih-Wei Hu allowed three runs on four hits in two innings Tuesday against the Red Sox. The right-hander is in contention for a bullpen spot at the Major League level.

"We're going to try and build him up like we talked about with a handful of guys -- Yonny Chirinos, Ryan Yarbrough, Anthony Banda, Austin Pruitt, Matt Andriese -- and he's going to be right in that mix," Cash said.

If Hu does not earn a bullpen spot and returns to Triple-A Durham, it is not yet known whether he'll be a starter or a reliever.

"I don't know how they're going to sort through the Triple-A staff yet," Cash said. "There's a lot of moving pieces, they'll probably tell me how the priority [will go] for innings down there."

Injury update

Miller (broken right pinky toe) and catcher Nick Ciuffo (head laceration) both played in the morning sim game. Miller will be off on Wednesday.

Duffy (back spasms) and Hechavarria (stiffness behind his right knee) were back in action Tuesday.

Up next

The Rays will host the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Charlotte Sports Park. The game will be available via an exclusive audio webcast on rays.com. Blake Snell will make his third start of the spring and will be followed by a host of Rays relievers. Mike Wright Jr. will start for the Orioles.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jake Bauers