Rays use four-man outfield vs. Harper

Tampa Bay second team to get creative vs. Philly's new slugger

March 12th, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Rays became the second team to use a four-man outfield against Bryce Harper this spring in their 8-2 win vs. the Phillies on Monday.

Third baseman Kean Wong moved to left field, leaving shortstop to man the left side of the infield when the left-handed-hitting Harper came up to bat in the bottom of the first. The shift proved to be unnecessary, as Rays starter Blake Snell struck Harper out looking.

Manager Kevin Cash said it’s a shift the Rays will employ this season.

“Kean played left field, it makes it easiest," Cash said. "Why not have less movement, just go straight out to left and have Willy stay up the middle?"

Earlier in the spring, Cash sent second baseman Brandon Lowe to the outfield as part of the four-man look. He said it’s something that will be done based on the personnel in the game.

“If [Matt] Duffy gets healthy and he’s accustomed to playing the outfield, then he might go out there,” Cash said. “We’ll have more thought that goes into it once the season starts. Right now let’s get the bodies out there and get everybody the reps and see it.”

Cash said he’ll use the look against right-handed batters, too.

“Oh yeah, there’s going to be some righties,” Cash said. “There’s a couple in New York that might require it.”

Bemboom in a splint

Catcher Andrew Bemboom has his right thumb in a splint a day after taking a fastball from Diego Castillo off his hand. He was removed from Sunday’s game in the seventh inning.

“He’s in a splint, I think the X-ray was negative, he’ll have an MRI today,” Cash said. “It’s hurting him. I know that. Hopefully we avoid ligament damage, but it got him good.

Bemboom, 29, was expected to start the season with Triple-A Durham. Cash said he will have to look for other options if he needs considerable time out.

“I don’t want to rule him out yet." Cash said. "Those things happen. I’ve had them happen to where you feel like your thumb is broken for two days and then it goes right away. But this one, there’s just a lot of movement in there. It’ll be telling what the MRI says.”

Shake it off

Lowe was sporting a black eye after taking a ground ball to the face during batting practice before the game. He left with the trainer but still played in the game, going 1-for-3 with a two RBIs on a bases-loaded double in the second inning.

“Just getting in reps and it took a bad hop and hit me in the face,” Lowe said. “Got me good but everything’s good.”

Lowe said that was no chance of him getting scratched from the game and he told the trainer he wanted to field more grounders after being checked out.

The team, however, shut that idea down.

“They assured me that was not going to happen,” Lowe said.

Lowe is batting .448 with 13 RBIs this spring.

Injury update

Cash said that he still doesn’t have a timetable on when Matt Duffy will be available -- he remains optimistic while acknowledging that the third baseman may start the season on the injured list.

“I don’t want to say that’s he’s going to be; I don’t want to limit him, so I’ll wait,” Cash said. “Probably next Monday we’ll get a better sense. Obviously time is becoming crucial.”

Outfielder Tommy Pham is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Blue Jays. He will be the designated hitter and could return to the outfield by the weekend.

Game notes

Avasail Garcia hit his second home run in as many games, a solo blast in the fifth inning off Jerad Eickhoff.

Cash singled out Yonny Chirinos for a strong performance. Chirinos struck out four in 2 1/3 innings.

Up next

Hunter Wood will start in an “opener” role on Tuesday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin at 1:07 p.m. ET. Ryan Stanek, Adam Kolarek and Andrew Kittredge are among the other pitchers expected to throw. The Blue Jays will start right-hander Aaron Sanchez.