What was thought to initially be a tight hamstring has turned into torn abdominal abductor muscle for closer Brad Boxberger which required surgery and will put the 2015 American League saves leader out of action for at least the first eight weeks of the season.
Manager Kevin Cash made the announcement on Friday morning stating that surgery had been performed in Philadelphia on Thursday. “It was an injury he thought was kind of an unknown. Initially we thought tight (hamstring),” Cash said. “But it was kind of like the abdominal abductor that was torn and they just went in to fix it.
Cash said that a closer will not be named at this time to replace Boxberger and that the role will come from in-house candidates of Alex Colome, Xavier Cedeno, Steve Geltz, Danny Farquhar and Ryan Webb.
It came as no surprise when Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash announced that Chris Archer will make his second consecutive Opening Day start when the Rays host the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, April 3.
Last season, the first time All-Star Archer pitched a career-high 212 innings and struck out a club record 252 batters despite having a losing record (12-13, 3.23 ERA) solidified himself as the ace of the staff following the loss of Alex Cobb to Tommy John surgery.
“It’s a pretty big deal. It’s a nice accomplishment,” Archer said. “We have a lot of really good pitchers on our staff, so for me to be the one selected is nice.”
So far this spring Archer’s performances (0-2,) have resembled a roller coaster ride. In three starts he’s fanned only seven while walking four and in his last start against the Braves (Mar. 14), a 5-0 loss, he gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. However, he’s held opposing batters to a .194 average and has yet to surrender a home run.
“The past two games I’ve started a little slow in the first inning,” Archer said following the loss to the Braves. “I think I’ve been a little too passive. I’m not a passive pitcher. I have to be extremely aggressive in the strike zone. After I got out of that first inning, I felt like myself. I didn’t feel like myself in the last game, either. But the second, third and fourth innings I felt like myself.”
In his final tune-up before his scheduled start against the Cuban National Team on Tuesday (Mar. 22), Matt Moore was lights out against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday (Mar. 17) in the Rays 6-1 win. He struck out eight while walking none in 4 2/3 innings Thursday, yielding Ryan Howard’s home run in the fourth on a 0-2 fastball.
“We’re in a good place,’’ said Moore, I did a good job getting ahead of the count and it’s nice to have the ball come out the way that it is. To be able to have the feel for the changeup right now is kind of like the cherry on top.’’
So far this spring, in three starts Moore has 11 strikeouts, with a 1.78 ERA in 10 1/3 innings pitched and are showing signs of his All-Star season of 2013 when he went 17-4. The spring results so far are a far cry from last summer when he returned from Tommy John surgery and posted a dismal 5.43 ERA in 12 starts to go along with a 3-4 record.
Top pitching prospect Blake Snell, along with Jacob Faria, Jaime Schultz and Taylor Guerrieri highlighted the Rays’ first cuts of Spring Training. Faria, Guerrieri and Snell were all optioned, as was second baseman Ryan Brett. Reassigned were Schultz, pitchers Eddie Gamboa, Justin Marks, Adam Reifer and Adam Wilk, catcher Jake DePew, outfielders Johnny Field and Dayron Varona (who will make the trip to Cuba next Tuesday) and infielders Patrick Leonard (3B) and Daniel Robertson (SS).
The Rays on Tuesday announced the roster of players that will travel to Cuba Mar. 20-22 that will include an exhibition game against the Cuban National team on Tues. Mar. 22 which is highlighted by non-roster outfielder Dayron Varona, a Cuban defector via Haiti. The players making the trip are:
Pitchers: Archer, Matt Andriese, Andrew Bellatti, Brad Boxberger, Xavier Cedeno, Alex Cobb, Alex Colome, Danny Farquhar, Steve Geltz, Moore, Enny Romero, Drew Smyly, Ryan Webb and Chase Whitley.
Catchers: Curt Casali, Hank Conger and Rene Rivera.
Infielders: Tim Beckham, Logan Forsythe, Nick Franklin, James Loney, Longoria, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Taylor Motter, Steve Pearce and Richie Shaffer.
Outfielders: Corey Dickerson, Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, Mikie Mahtook, Steven Souza Jr. and Varona.