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Archer's BP session headlines first workout

Hitters take crack at starters during first live batting practice of spring
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays players were warming up for the first full-squad workout on Friday when Jim Hickey quipped that "hitters hate today."

The Rays' pitching coach was referring to the fact that the hitters -- who do not yet have their timing tuned up -- hit against live pitching during the first workout.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays players were warming up for the first full-squad workout on Friday when Jim Hickey quipped that "hitters hate today."

The Rays' pitching coach was referring to the fact that the hitters -- who do not yet have their timing tuned up -- hit against live pitching during the first workout.

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Among the pitchers who took the mound on Friday were Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Erasmo Ramirez, Ryan Webb, Xavier Cedeno, Andrew Bellatti, Enny Romero, Justin Marks, Blake Snell, Taylor Guerrieri, Eddie Gamboa, Ryan Garton, Kyle McPherson and Mark Sappington.

Of those hurlers, Archer brought the marquee moment when he faced Evan Longoria, Tim Beckham and Kevin Kiermaier.

As custom dictates, fellow starters Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi walked over to watch Archer pitch. One reporter asked Odorizzi if he was watching so he could learn something. Odorizzi answered: "You can't teach 98."

Video: TB@BOS: Archer holds Sox to one run in five innings

Archer went through Longoria, then started on Beckham, who managed to make contact and actually drive one over the fence, prompting him to raise his arms in celebration. Archer mocked disgust.

"He went deep, he called it," Archer said.

According to Archer and Beckham, a little good-natured smack had been exchanged prior to Friday morning's workout.

"I shot him a text this morning letting him know I was coming for him," Beckham said. "It's all fun and games, man. See some pitches. Do something productive out of the day. And get some good momentum going into the spring."

Seeing a ball leave the park on the first day is rare.

"I was talking to him, and he said bring four bats," Beckham said. "And I said I'm already doing that. Just so happened that I ran into one on the barrel and that felt good."

Despite Beckham's blast, Archer felt as though he got a quality session in on Friday.

"Everything felt great," Archer said. "My main focus was fastball command. I think I missed with less than a handful. Mixed in a couple of offspeed pitches. But right now I'm just trying to be across the plate with my heater, and I accomplished that goal."

Prior to the workout, manager Kevin Cash delivered a short message to the team. Archer allowed that the gist of Cash's message was that the team needs to try to win "starting today."

"Not April 1 or whenever the first game is," Archer said. "Being a competitive team and a winning team starts right now, today. And from what I saw from my field, we had that mentality today."

Cash said he complimented the group for how hard they have worked in the offseason and for the early arrivals of most players.

"Shows where their heads are at," Cash said. "[I] wanted to commend them for that, and going forward we want to maintain it."

As for the first full-squad workout, Cash glowed relating what he saw.

"Great day," Cash said. "What a day as far as getting on the field. We just talked about it at a brief hitter's meeting. That was the best live BP session, pitcher and hitter that [hitting coach Derek Shelton] had ever seen. I know that I've ever seen. [I liked seeing] the strike-throwing ability of the pitchers and the hitters' intent to get up there and take an aggressive approach and get something out of it."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.

 

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer, Tim Beckham