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AL East: Checking in on the new guys

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

In April, everything is magnified. The numbers that are on the scoreboard and in box scores represent a small sample size, but they are still the numbers fans fixate on, because there is nothing else to go off yet. This is particularly true for the key newcomers for each team.

Here is a look at how it is going for five newbies in the American League East.

In April, everything is magnified. The numbers that are on the scoreboard and in box scores represent a small sample size, but they are still the numbers fans fixate on, because there is nothing else to go off yet. This is particularly true for the key newcomers for each team.

Here is a look at how it is going for five newbies in the American League East.

Blue Jays
Who's the new guy?
Right fielder Randal Grichuk

How's it going so far? Grichuk had just three hits in his first 42 at-bats before he homered and hit a key double against the Royals in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader. Grichuk entered play on Thursday with 19 strikeouts over 61 plate appearances, and he has yet to live up to the hype as Jose Bautista's replacement in right field.

Video: KC@TOR: Grichuk rips a 114.1-mph three-run homer

What's on deck? Grichuk has a pair a 20-plus homer seasons on his resume, so there's a reasonable expectation that he should be able to turn things around. It needs to happen soon, because Teoscar Hernandez will push him for playing time in right.

Number to know: The offensive production hasn't been there, but Grichuk was credited with two defensive runs saved in his first 14 starts in right field this season.

Orioles
Who's the new guy?
Starting pitcher Andrew Cashner

How's it going so far? After a rocky debut, Cashner has had three consecutive quality starts. Cashner credits fellow newcomer Alex Cobb for helping him with his breaking ball. After giving up three homers in his first start, Cashner has allowed a total of two in his past three starts. To this point, he looks to be the solid No. 2 starter the Orioles thought they were getting.

Video: BAL@DET: Cashner fans Goodrum for his fifth K

What's on deck? Cashner faces a tough test on Sunday in the Indians, who have won the AL Central title the past two years. Though Cleveland got off to a slow start at the plate, manager Terry Francona's team has plenty of firepower in the lineup.

Number to know: While he's not a big power pitcher, Cashner has 21 strikeouts in his first 24 innings.

Rays
Who's the new guy?
Right-hander Yonny Chirinos

How's it going so far? Chirinos became the first Rays pitcher to begin his career without allowing a run in the first two starts. Thus far, he has only started games that were designated as "bullpen days" under the Rays' new pitching plan.

Video: TEX@TB: Chirinos fans Guzman to end the frame

What's on deck? Chirinos' performance to date has fueled speculation that the Rays will slide him into the rotation in the near future.

Number to know: 14 1/3. That's the number of scoreless innings Chirinos logged to start the season.

Red Sox
Who's the new guy?
Designated hitter/outfielder J.D. Martinez

How's it going so far? The slugger is off to a modest start, but that shouldn't be a surprise. Martinez's career homer total in March/April is by far his lowest of any month. He has made some contributions, most notably a grand slam against the Yankees on April 11. Martinez has come through in many of the RBI opportunities he's had, and he has fit in well with his teammates. There's no reason to think the Red Sox didn't get the right guy when they signed Martinez.

Video: BOS@LAA: Martinez notches four hits, RBI in 9-0 win

What's on deck? More home runs, and soon. It should only be a matter of time before Martinez starts clearing the fences on a regular basis. Away from the chilly conditions of Boston for the next week -- the Red Sox play at Anaheim, Oakland and Toronto (where the roof is likely to be closed) -- Martinez has a good chance to get hot.

Number to know: .992. That is Martinez's OPS in his first nine home games for the Red Sox, which is a sign of how quickly he has gained comfort at Fenway. As Martinez promised, he has not shifted away from his all-fields approach.

Yankees
Who's the new guy?
Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton

How's it going so far? Not exactly how Stanton or the Yankees would have anticipated after his terrific debut, slugging two homers on Opening Day at Toronto. Stanton has heard frequent boos at Yankee Stadium, though he said that he understands why he is being singled out by his new fan base, given the expectations that accompanied his arrival.

Video: Must C Classic: Stanton hits two HRs in Yanks debut

What's on deck? Manager Aaron Boone has batted Stanton third in each of the Yankees' 16 games to this point, and said on Tuesday that he is considering lowering the slugger in the lineup -- "but not too far." Boone believes that Stanton's track record is too solid for this to continue forever, and when he does play to his career norms, opponents will pay for these early struggles.

Number to know: .086. Stanton's batting average through eight games at Yankee Stadium, where he is 3-for-35 with 20 strikeouts. Stanton is hitting .323 (10-for-31) in eight road games.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Andrew Cashner, Yonny Chirinos, Randal Grichuk, J.D. Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton

Rays break through in 6th as Faria gets 1st win

Club gets aggressive on basepaths; bullpen holds off Rangers' rally
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay is 5-13 on the season, yet the Rays' effort has not waned.

Never was that effort -- from young and old -- more prevalent than in the sixth inning of their 4-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. In victory, the Rays claimed a much-needed series win, and they showed what type of team they need to be to continue to win.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay is 5-13 on the season, yet the Rays' effort has not waned.

Never was that effort -- from young and old -- more prevalent than in the sixth inning of their 4-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field. In victory, the Rays claimed a much-needed series win, and they showed what type of team they need to be to continue to win.

View Full Game Coverage

Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, Johnny Field nudged a single through the right side against Cole Hamels. One out later, Daniel Robertson doubled to left and Field scored from first.

"Honestly, I was just thinking first to third and that [Rangers left fielder Nomar Mazara] would cut it off and there would be a play at third, so I was booking it trying to go first to third," Field said. "As I was going to third base, I see Q [third-base coach Matt Quatraro] waving me home, so I tried to turn it on from there."

Video: TEX@TB: Cash discusses offensive effort in 4-2 win

Robertson noted that's how Field plays the game.

"I've played with him a couple of years and he plays all out," Robertson said. "He's obviously a good baserunner. A quick guy. That time of the game, that was huge for us for him to score from first on that."

Field represented the young in the sixth inning. Carlos Gomez represented the more seasoned.

Video: TEX@TB: Rays take the lead on Cron's RBI single

Gomez got hit by a pitch on the right hand to put runners at the corners for C.J. Cron, who blooped a single into center to score Robertson. Gomez wasn't content to stop at second on the play, and managed to hustle into third.

"First of all, you need to see when you're on base where they play," Gomez said. "In that situation, [the outfielders] were not playing in. It was a big guy [in Cron], and they didn't want to give up a double. I was looking at the outfield and said, 'Base hit, and I'm going to third.' But it's a looper, so I shuffle, shuffle, and when I see he's not going to get it, I put my head down and go all the way to third."

Gomez's effort represented a big play because reaching third allowed him to score on Adeiny Hechavarria's sacrifice fly to put the Rays up 3-1.

Video: TEX@TB: Hechavarria extends the lead with a sac fly

Denard Span doubled home Joey Wendle in the seventh to push the lead to 4-1.

"Things aren't going like we want to right now," Gomez said. "It's not only me, this is the game we're going to play. But the last 2 1/2 weeks, we're not performing like we want to, but it's a game that everybody is going to see us going from first to third on every base hit."

Jake Faria gave the Rays a quality start, allowing one run on five hits with an intentional walk and six strikeouts in six innings to claim his first win of the season, and his first win since July 25, 2017.

Video: TEX@TB: Faria strikes out six in a one-run outing

Faria's effort bridged the gap to Chaz Roe and Jose Alvarado, who notched scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings, before Alex Colome pitched the ninth and had to navigate some problems -- facing the potential tying run before getting a game-ending double play.

"Yeah, it's been a rough stretch," Robertson said. "But we show up to the field every day enthused and ready to play, and ready to compete. If it doesn't go our way, we can't knock our effort or our energy. It's baseball. Teams go through stretches. It happened to us early. But last couple of games, last couple of days, we've been able to pull out some wins."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Rangers almost rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the ninth against Colome, who put himself in trouble by walking Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo to lead off the inning. Colome struck out Robinson Chirinos, but Drew Robinson lined a single to left to bring home Beltre. Texas then had Ronald Guzman pinch-hit for Renato Nunez, and he hit a grounder to the second baseman Wendle for a game-ending double play.

Video: TEX@TB: Wendle and Hechavarria turn game-ending DP

"I'm really glad [Colome] got through that and we didn't have to make a decision there at the end," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But give him credit, I think he'd be the first to admit that he's not totally locked in. But he's going to continue to try and find it. And when he does, he'll get on a good run."

SOUND SMART
Cron was credited with his first game-winning RBI since hitting a go-ahead pinch-hit homer off Adam Kolarek on July 16, 2017, against the Rays.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mazara led off the Rangers' sixth and popped into foul territory. Brandon Snyder gave chase. Approaching Texas' bullpen, Tampa Bay's third baseman made a backhanded grab just before reaching the stands.

 Video: TEX@TB: Snyder makes a backhanded grab in foul ground

HE SAID IT
"I thought it was a great play." -- Cash, on the fan interference call that turned Renato's home run into a double

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Nunez may have had a home run taken away from him by a fan in the fifth. The third baseman drove one over the padded part of the right-field wall, but there was some doubt whether it would have cleared the yellow line. That's because a fan reached out and caught the ball. Nunez was held to a double. The Rangers received a crew chief review, and the call stood upon review.

Video: TEX@TB: Umpires review Nunez's double, call stands

UP NEXT
The Rays will welcome the Twins to Tropicana Field on Friday to open a three-game series beginning with a 7:10 p.m. ET contest. Chris Archer will make his fifth start of the season. He has allowed homers in all four starts. Lance Lynn will start for Minnesota.

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Jake Faria, Johnny Field, Carlos Gomez, Daniel Robertson

Cash not worried about Archer's early struggles

Rays' ace 'feeling good' ahead of Friday's start vs. Twins
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer is off to a slow start. But the Rays' ace and his manager both see better days ahead.

Archer will start against the Twins on Friday night at Tropicana Field. He'll carry a 1-1 record with a 7.84 ERA into the start after allowing seven earned runs in four innings against the Phillies.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer is off to a slow start. But the Rays' ace and his manager both see better days ahead.

Archer will start against the Twins on Friday night at Tropicana Field. He'll carry a 1-1 record with a 7.84 ERA into the start after allowing seven earned runs in four innings against the Phillies.

View Full Game Coverage

"I thought the other day in the Philly game, there might have been a little of, not letting it loose for whatever reason early on," manager Kevin Cash said. "Good pitchers get to being good through different avenues. Some are location guys. Some are athletic and power guys. I think Arch probably falls more into that be athletic, be powerful. I'm confident we're going to see his next start where he's going to go out there and let it go from pitch one."

Archer told reporters he's flushed his last start.

"It's already gone," Archer said. "It's been gone. Been gone since the second inning of that game. If you make a couple of hundred starts in the big leagues, you're going to have ones that are really, really good and ones that are no good.

"I've had other tough starts. Just understand it's a long season. And after all that [stuff] happened in the second inning, I actually threw pretty well. I understand coming out of the game because of a high volume of pitches. But I wish I could have stayed out there, because I kind of started getting into a groove. And that's continued, like in my bullpens and throwing sessions. So I'm feeling good going into Friday."

Archer has historically been close to neutral against righties and lefties. For example, last season lefties hit .263 against him and righties hit .232. This season, righties are hitting .178 while lefties are hitting .450.

Archer didn't read anything into the disparity.

"I haven't put too much thought into it, because it is only a couple of games," Archer said. "I think just making higher quality pitches. You go back and look, and it's not like the pitches that have been capitalized have been good pitches. So [the answer is] making higher quality pitches to both hands."

A popular line of dialogue regarding Archer has been the opinion that he needs to throw his changeup more often to offset his fastball-slider combination. Cash isn't buying that Archer needs to throw more changeups.

"I don't agree with that," Cash said. "He's a fastball-slider pitcher. He can use it as he wants. But I certainly don't agree with the fact that the changeup needs to be in place of his fastball or slider. And he doesn't either.

"I think [the changeup is] a nice pitch to have. Especially when he's facing lineups that see him over and over. That's a great pitch to mix in. But Chris Archer has made a career with a fastball-slider. He's going to continue to have a good career with the fastball-slider."

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer

Chirinos struggles for 1st time in loss to Texas

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yonny Chirinos is human, after all. The Rangers drove home that point in a 7-2 win over the Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

Until Tuesday night, the rookie right-hander had not been scored upon in 14 1/3 innings spread over three outings. But the Rangers quickly ended any suspense about whether Chirinos could extend his scoreless streak when they took a 1-0 lead in the first.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Yonny Chirinos is human, after all. The Rangers drove home that point in a 7-2 win over the Rays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.

Until Tuesday night, the rookie right-hander had not been scored upon in 14 1/3 innings spread over three outings. But the Rangers quickly ended any suspense about whether Chirinos could extend his scoreless streak when they took a 1-0 lead in the first.

View Full Game Coverage

The Rangers scored again in the second, but the way Chirinos had limited the damage to that point gave the Rays a chance to climb back into the game. He survived a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first, then surrendered three Rangers hits in the second, yet he trailed only 2-0.

Chirinos followed with scoreless frames in the third and fourth innings -- including a nine-pitch fourth, and the Rays trailed just 2-1 after four.

But the dam burst for Chirinos in the fifth, when he needed 25 pitches to get three outs and got touched for three runs, including Ronald Guzman's two-run double. Shin-Soo Choo finally chased the righty with a solo home run in the sixth.

"I was attacking the hitters too early," Chirinos said. "And that got me into trouble a little bit. I tried a little too hard. But I learned from that and I'll be ready to go in my next outing."

Rays manager Kevin Cash cited a lack of command.

"When he came out of the bullpen, I asked [pitching coach] Kyle [Snyder] how he warmed up," Cash said. "And he said he was a little erratic, more than what we've seen in the past.

"He's young, he's allowed to have a little hiccup there. I thought he did a nice job battling up until about the fifth inning, until his pitch count got up and they made some adjustments on him. Got some big hits."

Video: TEX@TB: Cash on Rays' 7-2 loss to the Rangers

The rookie's line showed six earned runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. His immaculate ERA went from 0.00 to 2.70. Along the way, he threw a career high 89 pitches.

"In theory, now we have him built up," said Cash, which should fuel speculation that Chirinos will soon officially be a part of the rotation. "[It depends] on what route we take with the fourth starter. He's capable on five days of going 100-plus pitches."

Former Ray Matt Moore silenced the Rays' bats for seven innings. Tampa Bay's only run against the left-hander came in the third on a throwing error by Rangers shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

"I thought Matt threw the ball well," Cash said. "He got in a rhythm. We let him kind of get into a rhythm. We put some pressure on him early. He made some big pitches to get out of innings. A couple of double plays that really favored him.

"But Matt's done this a long time. He's pitched well at this ballpark. It's probably a comfort for him. He threw the ball well. It's good to see, other than the fact it came against us."

Wilson Ramos' solo home run in the bottom of the ninth equaled the final margin.

Video: TEX@TB: Ramos hits his first home run of the season

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Chirinos' luck runs out: Chirinos had dodged crooked numbers the entire game, and he appeared like he might do so again in the fifth when he retired Adrian Beltre on a sacrifice fly for the second out. That brought Joey Gallo to the plate, and the Rangers slugger walked on six pitches. Guzman followed with a two-run double.

"That was a tough part in the game, facing Gallo," Chirinos said. "I had a tough time locating the sinker as well as I usually have been. But that definitely was a tough part of the game that got me where I was."

SOUND SMART
Tuesday night's start by Chirinos marked the third time this season a Rays pitcher yielded six earned runs or more, following Chris Archer on Saturday against the Phillies and Jake Faria on April 7 at Boston.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Robertson loses grip: Rays leadoff hitter Daniel Robertson had the Rangers up in arms in his first at-bat of the game. Not once but twice, Robertson lost the grip on his bat swinging at pitches. Both times the bat sailed in the direction of the Rangers dugout. Nobody was hurt, but Martin Perez suggested that Bartolo Colon put on a helmet.

Video: TEX@TB: Robertson's bat lands by Rangers dugout twice

"It's all fun and games," said Robertson of the Rangers' reaction. "That's what's going to happen whenever that stuff happens. I just try to laugh it off. Done it my whole life, so it's really no story, or answer, or question why I do it."

HE SAID IT
"We don't like to pitch him in that situation. He wanted to pitch. We needed him to pitch. Hopefully, that's a little bit of a confidence boost. I don't think Alex is lacking too much confidence, being the type of pitcher he's been the past couple of years. But it's always good to go out there and get three outs with nobody scoring." -- Cash, on using struggling closer Alex Colome in a non-save situation

UP NEXT
The Rays close out their three-game series with the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon with a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Facing Cole Hamels, Faria will start for the Rays, hoping to build in his last outing against the Phillies, when he allowed one run on two hits, walking two and striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings.

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Yonny Chirinos

Sanchez, Linares among prospect performers

MLB.com @wboor

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

When things are going well offensively, more at-bats are certainly welcomed. That being the case, Wednesday's doubleheader came at a good time for Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade as the duo helped lead Double-A Chattanooga to a pair of wins over Jacksonville.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.

When things are going well offensively, more at-bats are certainly welcomed. That being the case, Wednesday's doubleheader came at a good time for Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade as the duo helped lead Double-A Chattanooga to a pair of wins over Jacksonville.

Gordon (No. 81 overall, Twins' No. 4) and Wade (Twins' No. 13) combined to go 7-for-12 (.583) with two homers and four RBIs over the two games.

Gordon, who went 2-for-4 and 2-for-3, has been swinging a particuarily hot bat lately. The 22-year-old is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak and has two or more hits in five of his past seven games. Gordon also has a homer in two of his past three contests, including Game 2 of the doubleheader.

Wade, who went deep in Game 1 and finished 2-for-3 and 1-for-2, is hitting .300 through 12 games this season and has multiple hits in three of his past five games.

Other top prospect performances from Wednesday's action:

• No. 3 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1) bounced back from Tuesday's 0-for-5 effort with a 2-for-2 day at the plate. Guerrero singled in the first inning, drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the third, was hit by a pitch in the sixth and capped his day with a double in the seventh.

Video: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. named No. 3 prospect

• No. 33 overall prospect Alex Verdugo (Dodgers' No. 2) is on an absolute tear with Triple-A Oklahoma City. After going 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs against Round Rock, the 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .643 (9-for-14) with three homers and nine RBIs over his past five games.

• No. 57 overall prospect Jesus Sanchez (Rays' No. 4) put together his fourth straight multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to six for Class A Advanced Charlotte. Sanchez, who is batting .370 through 12 games, went 4-for-5 with a homer -- his third in the past four games.

• No. 97 overall prospect Austin Riley (Braves' No. 8) pushed his average to .370 with his third straight multi-hit performance. Riley went 3-for-4 with a pair of triples and has nine extra-base hits in 13 games for Double-A Mississippi.

Video: Top Prospects: Austin Riley, 3B, Braves

• No. 99 overall prospect Blake Rutherford (White Sox No. 7) and Micker Adolfo (White Sox No. 10) combined for six hits as Class A Advanced Winston-Salem cruised past Down East. Rutherford, who has hits in five straight, went 3-for-5 with three doubles, while Adolfo went 3-for-6 with two RBIs.

Dodgers' No. 15 prospect Connor Wong hit his sixth homer of the season and turned in another two-hit game for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. Wong, who finished 2-for-4, has multiple hits in four of his past five games and has raised his average from .250 to .364 in that span.

Giants' No. 29 prospect Jordan Johnson extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings as he cruised through seven frames for Double-A Richmond. The right-hander, who picked up his second win of the season, threw 53 of his 76 pitches for strikes, gave up six hits and struck out five. Johnson also didn't issue a walk and has walked just one batter over his past two starts after giving out five free passes in his first outing.

• Mets prospects David Peterson (No. 2) and Quinn Brodey (No. 28) -- both members of the 2017 Draft class -- led Class A Columbia to a win over Greenville. Peterson, making his season debut, gave up one run on four hits over six innings, while Brodey extended his hitting streak to seven games with his first career two-homer effort. Brodey, who hit three homers in 63 games last season, went deep in both the eighth and ninth innings, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Video: Top Prospects: David Peterson, LHP, Mets

• Rangers prospects Pedro Gonzalez (No. 10) and Anderson Tejeda (No. 12) each homered as part of multi-hit efforts for Class A Hickory and Class A Advanced Down East, respectively. Gonzalez hit his second homer of the season, a two-run blast, in the fifth to highlight a 2-for-3, two-RBI day. Tejeda, who also went 2-for-3, hit a three-run homer off of Dylan Cease (No. 61 overall, White Sox No. 5).

• Rays No. 28 prospect Resly Linares was nearly perfect in his second start for Class A Bowling Green. The 20-year-old lefty gave up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first outing of the season, but this time around he threw 52 of his 85 pitches for strikes, struck out seven and allowed just two baserunners -- via a hit batter and an error -- over seven scoreless frames.

• Yankees prospects Thairo Estrada (No. 10) and Trevor Stephan (No. 15) did their part as Class A Advanced Tampa routed Daytona, 12-0. Estrada, who was making his season debut after recovering from a gunshot wound sustained in the offseason, wasted no time getting back into the swing of things. The 22-year-old doubled in his first at-bat on his way to a 3-for-5 game. Stephan strung together six zeros for the second straight start, lowering his ERA to 1.13. The right-hander walked two, gave up a pair of hits and struck out eight, bringing his season total to 22 punchouts through 16 innings.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Rays place Duffy on DL with hamstring strain

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have placed third baseman Matt Duffy on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

To take Duffy's place, the Rays selected Brandon Snyder from Triple-A Durham. Kevin Kiermaier (torn right thumb ligament) was moved from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL to create a spot for Snyder on the 40-man roster.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have placed third baseman Matt Duffy on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

To take Duffy's place, the Rays selected Brandon Snyder from Triple-A Durham. Kevin Kiermaier (torn right thumb ligament) was moved from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL to create a spot for Snyder on the 40-man roster.

View Full Game Coverage

After hitting a single to lead off the Rays' first Monday night, Duffy stole second and appeared to jam his right leg when sliding into the bag. When he was not able to score on C.J. Cron's single to right, Duffy was lifted.

Video: TEX@TB: Duffy exits after awkward slide

Duffy called his injury a "mild strain."

"Actually not very serious, thankfully, but it is something that's going to take about five days to a week [to heal]," Duffy said. "So a DL trip is probably the safest thing. Hopefully we'll get this thing figured out and be ready to come off when I'm ready, ideally."

Duffy said the diagnosis following his MRI was "kind of what I had anticipated.

"But I always try to keep an open mind, in case I get terrible news," Duffy said. "My gut feeling was how it felt just walking around, it didn't feel like somebody punched me in the back of the leg. I've heard of other guys' strains, [there are] bigger issues where they feel it getting out of bed. I have none of that. Minor. Unfortunate, but it's part of the game. I just have to get back out there."

Duffy allowed that his leg felt better on Tuesday than it did Monday night.

"Yeah, honestly it does," Duffy said. "It's not something I feel walking around or just doing basic stuff. I have to try and find it, but obviously running at 100 percent, if we keep doing, it we're going to be asking for something to pop, which we don't want. So this is probably the safest thing."

Rays manager Kevin Cash said that they wanted to make sure Duffy's leg did not get worse.

"A hamstring tweak this early in the season is something that can really snowball," Cash said. "And we want to make sure we kind of nip it as soon as possible. Could he come back in a week? Potentially. But we have to be smart and keep Matt healthy. He's had a long road to get back [from heel surgery that forced him to miss all of 2017]. The last thing we want to do is jeopardize that by forcing him to play through something.

"I know he'd want to. But the smartest thing for us right now is to let him have his full 10 days. And hopefully he's ready to come back then."

Snyder arrived Tuesday and was in the lineup at third base against the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Video: BOS@TB: Snyder hits a two-run home run to left

"Brandon did a good job for us during Spring Training," Cash said. "He played all over the field. I think he'll probably primarily play third base while he's here."

Cash pointed out that the Rays like Snyder's flexibility as he can play the corner-outfield spots and catch, too.

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Matt Duffy, Brandon Snyder

Gomez tried to throw Beltre out on single

Adrian Beltre is funny. Carlos Gomez is funny. When they were on the same team last year, it was basically a traveling comedy show.

And on Tuesday night, the two friends were facing off against one another during the Rangers-Rays game. In the seventh inning, Beltre hit a single to right field -- where Gomez was playing -- and, of course, Gomez tried to throw him out at first. Beltre reacted like somebody had just touched his helmet.

Kiermaier needs thumb surgery, out 3 months

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier knew something was wrong with his right thumb. Monday morning, his concerns were validated when it was learned he had a torn ligament.

The Rays placed their star center fielder on the 10-day disabled list on Monday before moving him to the 60-day DL on Tuesday to make room on the 40-man roster for Brandon Snyder, who was recalled to replace the injured Matt Duffy. Kiermaier is expected to be out three months.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier knew something was wrong with his right thumb. Monday morning, his concerns were validated when it was learned he had a torn ligament.

The Rays placed their star center fielder on the 10-day disabled list on Monday before moving him to the 60-day DL on Tuesday to make room on the 40-man roster for Brandon Snyder, who was recalled to replace the injured Matt Duffy. Kiermaier is expected to be out three months.

"It's disappointing," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We talk daily about how valuable he is to our lineup, to our clubhouse."

Mallex Smith started in center field for the Rays on Monday night against the Rangers. Going forward, he will be asked to anchor center field on most nights.

"Mallex has played a lot of center field in his Minor League career," Cash said. "In theory, he's the one who can cover the most ground out there. Give him that opportunity and hope that he can run with it until K.K. comes back."

Kiermaier's surgery is scheduled for Friday morning. To take his place on the active roster, Tampa Bay recalled right-hander Chih-Wei Hu from Triple-A Durham.

"Yesterday, I was preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, and then this morning got confirmation of what was wrong," Kiermaier said. "I kind of expected it. But hearing those words that I'm going to be out for months at a time, it's really hard to take right now."

X-rays of Kiermaier's thumb were taken on Sunday, and those were negative. Kiermaier had an MRI on Monday that diagnosed the problem.

"I knew how my thumb was feeling, and the angle that it could go to that I've never felt or seen before," Kiermaier said. "I knew there was something that was extremely wrong."

Video: PHI@TB: Kiermaier checked by trainer, leaves later on

Kiermaier singled to left with one out in the first inning of Sunday's 10-4 loss to the Philles and broke for second after left fielder Rhys Hoskins bobbled the ball. Kiermaier slid headfirst into the base, and he came up shaking his right hand.

"The hand just kind of got caught in the ground," Kiermaier said. "Thumb went in a weird angle. Just one of those things where I felt like I had the chance to over slide the bag, like I've done a couple of times in my career. And I was just trying to hold on.

"I don't know if that's what made my thumb go in the angle that it did. I thought I jammed it right from that moment, but I didn't like the way my thumb felt after that."

Last season, Kiermaier missed 61 games with a right hip fracture. In 2016, he missed 48 games with a fractured left hand.

"He's going to miss some time, 10 to 12 weeks, whatever it is speculated," Cash said. "This is year three, we should be getting used to it now. The broken wrist, the hip injury and now the [torn thumb ligament]. It probably stings the more it happens. As early as we are, the way we're playing right now, we need him in the lineup. But we'll have to make an adjustment."

Kiermaier told reporters he hates for people to label him as injury prone.

"I'm stubborn and I'm still going to say I'm not injury prone," Kiermaier said. "But at the same time, there's no doubt about it. This will be my third long stint on the DL, and it's hard for me to say that. ... It's hard for me to admit that."

Kiermaier pointed out that each of his three injuries were freakish and "could have been avoided easily."

"You're talking about a matter of inches on some of these plays," Kiermaier said.

Kiermaier said he plans to stay in good spirits, and he had a message for those wishing him well.

"I want to thank all the fans who reached out to me and sent their well wishes my way," Kiermaier said. "And I will be back this season. I promise you that. I'm going to work my butt off and get to that day as soon as possible."

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Chih-Wei Hu, Kevin Kiermaier

Robertson, Smith back Snell's gem vs. Texas

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Talk about picking up the slack. With the Rays beset by injuries, Mallex Smith and Daniel Robertson answered the call in an 8-4 win over the Rangers on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

Smith started in center field in the absence of Kevin Kiermaier, who learned Monday morning that he needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, which is expected to cost him three months.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Talk about picking up the slack. With the Rays beset by injuries, Mallex Smith and Daniel Robertson answered the call in an 8-4 win over the Rangers on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

Smith started in center field in the absence of Kevin Kiermaier, who learned Monday morning that he needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, which is expected to cost him three months.

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The speedy Smith went 4-for-4, finding himself in the middle of rallies in the second and third innings. Mondays have been good for Smith this season; last week, he went 4-for-4 in a 5-4 Rays win over the White Sox in Chicago.

Video: TEX@TB: Smith lines his fourth hit of game

"I'm not here to prove myself or establish myself," Smith said. "I'm here to help the team win. Whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I'm here for."

Smith's stellar performance raised his average to .409 for the season.

Robertson started at second base, then shifted to third after Matt Duffy left in the first inning with right hamstring tightness. Robertson made two diving grabs that saw him throw out Rangers hitters at first, and then he hit his first home run of the season in the fourth.

Video: TEX@TB: Duffy exits after awkward slide

"Robby had a tremendous day defensively," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We saw it all year last year -- it was nice to see him make those plays. Those were game-changing plays. Mallex did a nice job. He's been swinging the bat as well as anybody, obviously. But to fill in over there, [he] ran around and got to some tough plays."

Robertson said it's important to stay ready.

"I think that's our mindset, as far as Mallex and me," Robertson said. "He busts his butt in BP, working at all three positions out there, taking reads. Same goes for me -- even though I'm slated to play second base, I'm out there taking ground balls at short and third. Just trying to stay as sharp as I can at all three positions.

"It's not easy to move around and do that. But when you prepare yourself, when you get put in those situations, it makes it a little easier. I was able to go out there and make a couple of nice plays. So it was fun."

Video: TEX@TB: Robertson lays out to make nice diving stop

Blake Snell started for the Rays and logged his second consecutive quality start, allowing a run on five hits while striking out nine in 6 1/3 innings. The lefty was backed by solid defense, in particular Robertson's effort.

"We saw the efficiency," Cash said. "He had plenty left in the tank to continue pitching, but given 114-115 pitches [last outing], we thought that was enough."

Video: TEX@TB: Cash on Snell's performance, injuries

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rays power up in fourth: After Joey Gallo hit an impressive home run off Snell in the fourth that put the Rangers on the scoreboard, the Rays answered in the bottom half of the inning with some firepower of their own. First, C.J. Cron hit his second home run of the season, a 401-foot shot to center. One out later, Robertson hit his first home run of the season, depositing a Martin Perez pitch over the wall in right. The homers, which were just the eighth and ninth homers of the year for the team, gave the Rays a comfortable 8-1 lead.

Video: TEX@TB: Cron lifts a solo home run to center field

SOUND SMART
Snell's start was the longest by the Rays this season. It's was the team's second quality start of the season, both by the lefty.

Video: TEX@TB: Snell fans nine in stellar outing

HU OPTIONED, WOOD RECALLED
Recalled prior to Monday night's game, Chih-Wei Hu pitched 2 2/3 innings to finish the game. Afterward, he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham. The Rays recalled right-hander Hunter Wood from Durham.

HE SAID IT
"This is just another bump in the road, and there's nothing I can do besides do whatever it takes to get out there as soon as possible and get back on the field. I'm bummed right now, but I'm not going to sit here and pout." -- Kiermaier

Video: TEX@TB: Rays broadcast on Kiermaier's injury

UP NEXT
The Rays will have a bullpen day on Tuesday night when they host the Rangers at Tropicana Field in the second game of a three-game series. Yonny Chirinos will start for the Rays. The rookie right-hander has not given up a run in 14 1/3 innings this season. Opposing Chirinos will be former Ray Matt Moore. Gametime is 7:10 p.m. ET.

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Daniel Robertson, Mallex Smith, Blake Snell

Rays hurt by big inning in loss to Phillies

Gold Glove outfielder Kiermaier exits with right thumb injury; club concerned about severity
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- The big inning hurt the Rays again on Sunday when the Phillies took a 10-4 win over the Rays to complete a three-game weekend sweep at Tropicana Field.

Saturday night, the Rays gave up six in the second. On Sunday, their crooked-number torture came via a four-run third and a five-run eighth.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The big inning hurt the Rays again on Sunday when the Phillies took a 10-4 win over the Rays to complete a three-game weekend sweep at Tropicana Field.

Saturday night, the Rays gave up six in the second. On Sunday, their crooked-number torture came via a four-run third and a five-run eighth.

View Full Game Coverage

The Rays have been swept in three series this season. Sunday's loss moved their record to 3-12, giving the team its worst 15-game start in franchise history.

The Rays grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to Denard Span's first home run with the Rays, and Mallex Smith's RBI triple.

Video: PHI@TB: Smith cracks an RBI triple into the gap

Ryan Yarbrough started the Rays' bullpen day and notched two scoreless innings before he encountered trouble in the third.

The Phillies scored their first run on shortstop Daniel Robertson's throwing error. Then with the bases loaded and two out, Scott Kingery popped up behind home plate. Catcher Jesus Sucre appeared to be camped under the ball for the third out. Instead, the ball hit a wire on its downward path, giving Kingery new life.

Rays celebrate Jackie Robinson Day

"I had it, it just hit the cable," Sucre said. "If that ball don't hit the cable, I have the ball right away, and that's the third out. Man, it's tough. That's how things are going now. We've got to do something to turn the page."

Video: PHI@TB: Kingery laces a three-run double to center

Taking advantage of his reprieve, Kingery emptied the bases with a double to left field.

The Phillies led 5-3 in the sixth when the Rays threatened with runners on second and third. But Aaron Altherr made a diving catch of Span's line drive to right to end the inning, preventing the tying runs from scoring.

Video: PHI@TB: Altherr lays out to make a tremendous catch

The Phillies added five in the eighth on Maikel Franco's two-run single and Altherr's three-run homer to push the lead to 10-3.

When asked if he had a better evaluation of the bullpen day following Sunday's loss, Rays manager Kevin Cash allowed that they were "going to debate it for a while."

"Anytime you do something different, it's going to get debated," Cash said. "We understand that. We knew those thoughts were going to come along with it. I don't know if it's totally fair to say when you are in a 3-12 stretch because when you get in that stretch, everything is going wrong -- defense, pitching, hitting. It's tough to really evaluate and say something isn't working when right now nothing is working."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Rays' were still in the game in the eighth when the Phillies loaded the bases with no outs and a 5-3 lead. The Rays drew in the infield at that point, but Franco hit a hot shot through the legs of Rays third baseman Matt Duffy. Before the inning had drawn to a close, the Phillies held a 10-3 lead.

SOUND SMART
Yarbrough became the first Rays pitcher to ever yield three unearned runs or more in his first career start. The only other Ray with multiple unearned runs in his first start was Chris Archer when he had two on June 20, 2012, at Washington.

Video: PHI@TB: Yarbrough gets Kingery swinging in the 2nd

HE SAID IT
"The hardest part is that I feel like I let a lot of people down. Teammates, community, coaches. I harped on this during Spring Training that I just wanted to stay healthy for all my teammates and I want to put my talents on display for a full year and that's in jeopardy right now." -- Kevin Kiermaier, who injured his thumb in Sunday's game.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the eighth, the Rays loaded the bases with no outs for Sucre. The Rays catcher hit a ball down the right-field line that was called foul. The Rays challenged the foul call. After a one-minute, two-second review, the decision was made that the call would stand.

Video: PHI@TB: Sucre hits foul ball, stands after review

UP NEXT
The Rays will begin a three-game series against the Rangers on Monday in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Blake Snell will start for the Rays, hoping to improve on his last outing that saw him log a solid six innings against the White Sox to pick up his first win of the season. The Rays will face Martin Perez.

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

Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Solak makes Pipeline Team of the Week

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances in the Minors from the past week. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list is eligible.

After homering five times in six games to earn recognition on MLB Pipeline's final Prospect Team of the Week in 2017, Tyler O'Neill has picked up right where he left off. The Cardinals outfielder bashed two homers in the second game of this season and has four in 10 contests, claiming a spot on our inaugural PTOW of 2018.

MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances in the Minors from the past week. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list is eligible.

After homering five times in six games to earn recognition on MLB Pipeline's final Prospect Team of the Week in 2017, Tyler O'Neill has picked up right where he left off. The Cardinals outfielder bashed two homers in the second game of this season and has four in 10 contests, claiming a spot on our inaugural PTOW of 2018.

Each week, we'll pick an all-star team of prospect performers. For this edition, we included the first 11 days of the Minor League season, which began April 5.

A year ago, Rockies shortstop Brendan Rodgers led all players with four PTOW honors in 21 weeks, helping Colorado top all organizations with 13 total mentions. Cubs catcher Victor Caratini, Phillies second baseman Scott Kingery, Royals first baseman Ryan O'Hearn and Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker each made the PTOW three times. The Astros, Braves, Padres and White Sox had 12 nominees, while the Cardinals and Nationals tied for last with three each.

Here's the complete PTOW squad for games from April 5-15:

C: Connor Wong, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Class A Advanced)
(Dodgers' No. 15 prospect)
.361/.439/.889, 9 G ,13 R, 13 H, 4 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 17 K, 2 SB, 1 CS

It took Wong just nine games to match his home run total from 2017, his pro debut. He homered in each of his first two games and twice on Sunday, when he showed off his athleticism and versatility by playing second base. Wong is tied with Colton Welker (see below) for the Minor League lead in runs, and he sits atop the California League in homers, extra-base hits (nine), totals bases (32), slugging percentage and RBIs.

1B: Josh Naylor, San Antonio Missions (Double-A)
(Padres' No. 16 prospect)
.472/.545/1.000, 10 G, 10 R, 17 H, 1 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 7 BB, 5 K, 1 SB, 1 CS

Naylor's massive power potential led the Marlins to draft him 12th overall in 2015, but it didn't translate into huge production during his first three pro seasons as he homered just 23 times in 261 games. That may be starting to change, as Naylor (sent to the Padres in a 2016 trade for Andrew Cashner) already has two multihomer games to his credit, paces the Minors in homers and total bases (36) and is tied for the lead in hits.

Watch: Naylor's sixth homer

2B: Nick Solak, Montgomery Biscuits (Double-A)
(Rays' No. 12 prospect)
.429/.538/.607, 9 G, 5 R, 12 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 9 BB, 6 K, 3 SB, 2 CS

Sent from the Yankees to the Rays in the three-team Brandon Drury trade in February, Solak has made a nifty first impression with his new organization. He placed no worse than third in his league in hitting and on-base percentage in each of his first two seasons, and he has reached base in all nine of his games in 2018. He's hit safely in eight of them. A potential leadoff man, Solak is tied for the Southern League lead with nine walks and is tied for sixth with three steals.

3B: Colton Welker, Lancaster JetHawks (Class A Advanced)
(Rockies' No. 4 prospect)
.455/.578/.848, 10 G, 13 R, 15 H, 4 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 11 BB, 7 K

The Hangar in Lancaster may be the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the Minors, and Welker took advantage of seven home games to open the season by batting .522/.600/.870 prior to going 3-for-10 with a homer in three road contests. Welker is now a career .348/.401/.519 in two-plus years as a pro and could boost those numbers if he spends the bulk of 2018 in the California League. He leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS (1.426) and is tied for first in runs scored.

Video: Top Prospects: Colton Welker, 3B, Rockies

SS: Joe Dunand, Jupiter Hammerheads (Class A Advanced)
(Marlins' No. 18 prospect)
.372/.429/.628, 10 G, 12 R, 16 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K

Reminiscent of his uncle, Alex Rodriguez, Dunand is a shortstop packed with plenty of raw power. He finished his 2017 pro debut with a three-game cameo with Class A Advanced Jupiter, and has thrived there at the start of this season. He paces the Florida State League in total bases (27) and hits while being tied for first in runs. It's a small 18-game sample size, but Dunand now has a .371/.446/.643 slash line as a pro.

OF: Khalil Lee, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Class A Advanced)
(Royals' No. 1 prospect)
.387/.513/.742, 9 G, 6 R, 12 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 8 BB, 13 K, 3 SB

Though some clubs liked him as a left-handed pitcher with a low-90s fastball and an intriguing slider, the Royals made Lee a full-time outfielder after drafting him in the third round in 2016. He since has blossomed into their top prospect and has done nothing to diminish that status with a hot start that has him atop the Carolina League leaderboards in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (1.255).

Video: Top Prospects: Khalil Lee, OF, Royals

OF: Tyler O'Neill, Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A)
(Cardinals' No. 4 prospect/MLB No. 94)
.410/.405/.821, 10 G, 10 R, 16 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 1 BB, 10 K

The son of a former Canadian national bodybuilding champion, O'Neill looks the part and is known best for his pop. He started slowly with just five homers in the first two months of 2017, then reclaimed his power stroke with 26 long balls in the final three months (including 12 in 37 Triple-A games after the Mariners traded him to the Cardinals for Marco Gonzales). Since going 0-for-5 in his '18 season opener, O'Neill went deep four times in the next three games and has hit safely in nine straight.

Watch: O'Neill crushes two-run homer

OF: Juan Soto, Hagerstown Suns (low Class A)
(Nationals' No. 2 prospect/MLB No. 29)
.361/.489/.861, 10 G, 7 R, 13 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 10 BB, 7 K, 2 SB

The highest-ranked prospect on this week's PTOW, Soto had his 2017 full-season debut marred by right ankle, right hamate and hamstring injuries, but batted .360/.427/.523 in the 23 games he managed to play in the South Atlantic League. Soto has done even more damage in the SAL this year, with games of four and six RBIs that have him atop the Minors with 19 overall. He is tied for the league lead in homers and paces the SAL in extra-base hits (eight), total bases (31), slugging percentage and OPS (1.350).

Watch: Soto doubles in two more RBIs

LHP: Zac Lowther, Delmarva Shorebirds (low Class A)
(Orioles' No. 17 prospect)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K, 0.17 WHIP

Though his fastball usually resides in the upper 80s, Lowther was a strikeout machine in college at Xavier. The southpaw's heater plays well above its velocity thanks to the deception and extension in his delivery, not to mention the running life it creates and his ability to command the pitch. After whiffing 75 batters in 54 1/3 innings in his 2017 pro debut, he fanned 13 and allowed just one baserunner (a walk) over six innings in his first outing this year.

Watch: Lowther punches out 13 in six

RHP: Shane Bieber, Akron RubberDucks (Double-A)
(Indians' No. 8 prospect)
1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 GS, 13 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 17 K, 0.46 WHIP

Bieber led the Minors with a miniscule walk rate of 0.5 per nine innings in his 2017 full-season debut, notching as many wins as he gave up free passes (10) in 28 starts. He's back at it again, with one victory and no walks in his first two starts in '18. Bieber has yet to give up a run in 13 innings either, lowering his career ERA in pro ball to 2.40.

Watch: Bieber's eighth strikeout

RP: Lou Trivino, Nashville Sounds (Triple-A)
(Athletics' No. 27 prospect)
0.00 ERA, 3 G, 1 SV, 4 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0.00 WHIP

The lowest-ranked prospect on this PTOW, Trivino has advanced steadily to Triple-A since the A's made him an 11th-round choice out of Slippery Rock (Pa.) in 2013. Left unprotected in last year's Rule 5 Draft, he went unpicked despite his mid-90s fastball and solid cutter, and he has responded by retiring all 13 hitters he has faced so far, eight via strikeout.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.