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Cash impressed by Rays' spring play

Milner fans 4 in 2 innings; Morton, Roe throw simulated game; de Leon, Honeywell recovering
March 12, 2019

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- While manager Kevin Cash said he doesn’t put too much emphasis on wins and losses in the spring, he is happy with the clean baseball the Rays have played over the last few days. And despite getting just four hits, the Rays made some sizzling plays in

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- While manager Kevin Cash said he doesn’t put too much emphasis on wins and losses in the spring, he is happy with the clean baseball the Rays have played over the last few days.

And despite getting just four hits, the Rays made some sizzling plays in the field to earn a 2-1 win against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Joey Wendle arguably made the play of the game -- a diving stop on a sharp grounder hit by Rowdy Tellez to start a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the first.

“We defended well, Joey and [Daniel Robertson] on the double play, that was huge,” Cash said. “Just to see what they are capable of. We saw it all last year, but the defense is starting to clean itself up a little bit over the last couple of days, which is nice.”

The Rays had a couple of games last week where they struggled defensively, most notably last Saturday when they had three errors in a 17-15 loss to the Orioles.

“They recognized it was probably needed, we weren’t converting some plays that we were used to converting,” Cash said. “As for great plays. Willy [Adames] had two yesterday and today with Joey, he had a pretty spectacular play.

Game notes

Wendle also made a difference at the plate with an RBI double in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 1-1. He would later score the winning run on a sacrifice fly from Kevin Kiermaier.

Tommy Pham returned to the lineup Tuesday and batted out of the two-hole playing DH. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He is likely to return to the outfield over the weekend.

Cash singled out Hoby Milner for a strong pitching performance. Milner struck out four in two innings as Cash said they wanted to stretch him out.

“It’s not something he’s done a ton at the big league level but it looks good,” Cash said. “I like the way he attacked some of the lefties, they had lefties in there for him to use his slider and he looked comfortable out there.”

Back in Port Charlotte

Charlie Morton and Chaz Roe pitched a simulated game Tuesday at the Rays' spring complex in Port Charlotte.

Morton -- who signed a two-year $30 million contract in the offseason -- recently told David Adler of MLB.com that this will be his final contract.

Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder said Morton looked to be in good form in the simulated setting with live umpires.

“Charlie got his pitch count up to 58,” Snyder said. “He felt good, that was the main goal for him.”

Roe, who has only appeared in one spring game, threw 16 pitches and had two strikeouts according to Snyder.

Road to recovery

Jose de Leon and Rays' No. 2 prospect Brent Honeywell -- both recovering from Tommy John surgery -- took a big step in their returns when they faced live batters in Port Charlotte on Tuesday.

Both pitchers threw 15 pitches in the live batting practice session.

“I would say, honestly, both of them are ahead of the game,” Snyder said. “From my experience, personal experience and obviously just kind of seeing things unfold at different times, both of those guys are ahead of the game. No question.”

Both pitchers are on a similar progression in their rehab and are likely to pitch in Minor League games sometime during the spring, with the possibility of joining the big league club later in the season.

For now, Snyder said he is happy for them that they have reached this point in their rehabilitation.

“It’s a huge hurdle,” Snyder said. “It’s funny, I told them the other day was graduation, which was the last bullpen that they were throwing, and today was the first day of college.

“It’s tough to be able to kind of control that level of intensity until the hitter actually gets in the box. I was really, really pleased with both those guys to get to that point today.”

Up next

After a scheduled day off Wednesday, the Rays will return to Port Charlotte on Thursday to host the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET. Right hander Emilio Pagan is expected to get the start and make his sixth appearance of the spring.

Diego Castillo, Colin Poche, Cole Sulser, Mike Franco and Ricardo Pinto are also expected to throw for Tampa Bay Thursday.