Rays fend off late rally to defeat Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza (20) slides safe at home to score a run as New York Yankees ctahcer Eddy Rodriguez (67) attempted to tag him out during the fifth inning at Charlotte Sports Park.  

Kim Klement/Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Adam Warren isn’t assuming he will earn a spot in the New York Yankees’ pitching rotation.

"I haven’t been told anything yet," Warren said Thursday after another solid performance during a 6-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

"I didn’t feel like I was as sharp today as I was last outing, but these outings you can learn a lot about yourself … It’s big for me to know I can battle through it," Warren added. "I thought I recovered the last couple of innings, got stronger as I went."

Warren worked out of the bullpen in 2014 after failing to win a spot in the rotation during spring training. He went 3-6 with a 2.97 ERA in 69 relief appearances.

Manager Joe Girardi liked what he saw from the leading candidate to be the fifth starter.

"It’s what he’s done all spring. … He got into some longer counts today, but he battled through it and made pitches when he had to, Girardi said."

Warren went 3-6 with a 2.97 ERA in 69 relief appearances in 2014.

"I came into spring wanting to pitch well," Warren said. "Wherever I ended up, I wanted it to be because I pitched well, not because I didn’t pitch well."

Rays 6, Yankees 5

Brandon Guyer and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in runs for Tampa Bay, and Desmond Jennings hit a solo homer off Chris Martin.

Ramon Flores had a two-run double for New York. Didi Gregorius, Slade Heathcott and Jake Cave also had RBIs.

STARTING TIME

Yankees: Warren threw 51 of 74 pitches for strikes.

Rays: The Rays didn’t use a starting pitcher, spreading nine innings among seven relievers. LHP Jordan Norberto worked the first two innings, followed by Grant Balfour, Kevin Jepsen, Ernesto Frieri, Brad Boxberger, Kirby Yates and Jhan Marinez.

MANFRED VISITS

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred held separate meetings with the Rays and Yankees before the game. A number of topics were discussed, including new rules aimed at improving the pace of play.

"I’m encouraged about the pace of play. … The people that we have out in the field watching the games — the Joe Torres, the Jim Leylands — seem to think that we’ve had a little brisker games, which is what we’re after, Manfred said.

"Obviously spring training games are different. You can’t get too excited, but maybe more important in both clubhouses today, the managers, the coaching staff and maybe most important the players, seem to be willing to be cooperative and understanding that the issue is important to us."

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TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Injured fifth starter Chris Capuano (strained right quadriceps) is throwing up to 70 feet indoors and expects to start throwing and running outside next week. He could return in May. … CF Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) hit off a tee and did soft toss for the first time. "It went great," said Ellsbury, who expects to be ready for the season opener against Toronto on April 6. "I’m making good improvement. I’m very optimistic."

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (left shoulder tendinitis) and RHP Ronald Belisaro (left shoulder fracture) threw bullpen sessions that manager Kevin Cash said went well. … LHPs Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery) and Jake McGee (offseason elbow surgery) are scheduled to throw bullpens on Friday.

ROAD SHOW

Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez didn’t make Thursday’s trip and worked out in Tampa with most of the starting position players. A-Rod is scheduled to make Friday’s trip to Clearwater, Fla. for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. It will be his third road game since returning from a one-year drug suspension.

Rodriguez, batting .290 with two homer and three RBI’s in 31 at-bats this spring, could be playing his way into the starting DH role.

"I’ve said all along that he’s swung the bat really well in spring training," Girardi said. "Would it be helpful if we can put him in the field every once and a while? Absolutely, to give guys a day off."

MOVES

Yankees: Released RHP Jared Burton from his minor league contract.

Rays: Reassigned RHP Bryce Stowell, RHP Andrew Bellatti, INF Eugenio Velez and Belisario, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox last season, to mine league camp. "He’s going to be able to help us when he gets built back up," manager Kevin Cash said of Belisario.