Pearce flashing power Rays longed to see

First baseman homers twice in loss to Mariners, giving him five on season

May 11th, 2016

SEATTLE -- In January, the Rays signed Steve Pearce with the hope of adding a power component to the offense.

That move is beginning to yield promising results.

In Tuesday night's 6-4 loss in Seattle, the first baseman homered in the second and fourth innings against Mariners starter Wade Miley, giving him five home runs for the season along with the fourth multi-homer game of his career. His last multi-home run game came on Sept. 18 against the Rays when he played for the Orioles.

"Seeing the ball pretty well," Pearce said. "Felt good at the plate tonight. ... It's not as good when you don't get the 'W.'"

Pearce, 33, will make a base salary of $4.75 million this season, with $1.5 million available in incentive bonuses. While he hit just .218 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs for the Orioles in 2015, he spent time on the disabled list due to an oblique strain. He is one year removed from a career year in 2014, when he hit .293 with 21 home runs and 49 RBIs. Given Pearce's performance thus far, it's beginning to look like the Rays signed the 2014 version.

"That was the hope, I think, when we signed him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of the hope in the offseason we felt that he was totally capable of repeating. And it looks like with this start he's providing that."

Added Pearce: "Trying to flush last year and build on this year."

The Rays have clung to their right-left platoon for much of the season, which has meant Logan Morrison has gotten a lot of starts at first base against right-handed pitching while Pearce has played primarily against lefties, though lately he's been getting more chances against right-handers.

Pearce has hit safely in four of his last five games with three multi-hit contests. During the stretch, he is batting .368 with five runs scored, a double, four home runs, six RBIs, and two walks.

"He's swinging the bat well," Cash said. "We've got to find a way to get him into the lineup. There's no doubt about that."

One thing is certain: Pearce is comfortable with the Rays and he's happy to be inside the team's clubhouse.

"We have a great team," Pearce said. "It's fun showing up to the field every day. That's one of the reasons I picked this team. When I played against them for three or four years, I saw the fun they were having. I knew it would be a fun team to be a part of."