Avila homers as Tigers top Rays
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Miguel Cabrera had a single in three at-bats soon after the announcement of his $292 million, 10-year contract as the Detroit Tigers topped the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3 Friday in the final Grapefruit League game for both teams.
Alex Avila hit his first home run of the spring for Detroit. Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and Austin Jackson each had two hits.
Brandon Guyer homered for the Rays.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore allowed three runs in three innings, striking out four. Jake McGee pitched an inning and struck out the side.
Tigers rookie manager Brad Ausmus finished the Grapefruit League season with a record of 15-12.
"We’re ready to play game that count," Ausmus said. "I just let all the advice from the players, the coaches, and myself sink in. "Now we can go play baseball where it’s 45 degrees."
Rays: Moore went three innings only five days after a ball deflected off his glove and hit him in the mouth, resulting in three stitches to his lower lip. Moore said he wasn’t nervous but cringed when Cabrera hit a hard single to center field, just over the pitchers mound. He said he is ready to get started. "I felt normal," Moore said. "I felt like I had good stuff. I gave up some hits, but no walks and that was my goal heading into the season."
Tigers: Infielder Dan Kelly played in a minor league game and went 0 for 7, but is expected to be ready for opening day. He is recovering from a left hamstring injury … Ausmus said RHP Anibal Sanchez will start the third game of the regular season and that Sanchez feels fine after an inflammatory shoulder that his kept him out.
ONE MORE GAME
Rays: The Rays will travel to Montgomery, Ala., to take on their Double-A farm team, the Montgomery Biscuits. Chris Archer is expected to start for the Rays.
Tigers: Rick Porcello will start in Washington against the Nationals. Drew Smyly will pitch against minor leaguers in Lakeland.
IN THE RUNNING
The Tigers are rarely known for their speed, but they led the Grapefruit League in stolen base with 33. Steve Lombardozzi, since traded to Baltimore, led the team with six. Rajai Davis has five. "We made a lot of strides," Ausmus said. "I didn’t even know we led the league in steals. We want to be aggressive. You can’t steal your way to a championship, but it doesn’t hurt."
The Rays made two moves after Friday’s game. They re-signed left-hander Eric Bedard, who was released this week. Bedard will be in the starting rotation at Triple-A Durham. "It is great to have Bedard back with us," said Rays manager Joe Madden. "I’m sure he’ll see some time with us this year. I’m surprised no one picked him up. He’s got a lot left."
Avila’s homer was his first of the spring and Ausmus said that his catcher is a lot better than the one who hit .227 in 102 games last season. "I’m happy Alex Avila is hitting the ball," Ausmus said. "I think he’s going to have a rebound season. He’s a lot better than his numbers showed last year." Avila ended the spring with a .306 average.