Rays rally in ninth inning to tie Orioles
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Delmon Young drove in two runs to continue his spring tear for a Baltimore Orioles’ split-squad and the Tampa Bay Rays’ ninth-inning rally fell short as the AL East rivals tied 4-4 Wednesday night.
Young’s two-out double in the fourth scored Steve Pearce, and Steve Lombardozzi then singled Young home.
Young added a sliding catch into foul territory in the sixth to end a two-on, two-out Rays threat.
"People forget that he’s only 28 years old," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Wednesday’s game. "And, sometimes, you hear that he’s the No. 1 (overall) pick and get weary of something like that, but then you see him firsthand and see the whole five-tool package. It’s obvious he can still play."
Young, the 2003 No. 1 overall pick in the major league draft by the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays, is a serious contender for one of Baltimore’s last remaining rosters spots. While Young is batting .311 with 14 hits, five RBI and five strikeouts, he and Pearce are now in competition to replace Nolan Reimold, who will start the season on the disabled list.
Evan Longoria hit a sac fly in the first inning to score Matt Joyce and a RBI single in the fourth to score James Loney. Wil Myers was hit by a pitch in the seventh and Wilson Betemit drove in pinch-runner Spencer Edwards.
The Rays are a Grapefruit League best 15-6-4 this spring.
Relief pitcher Josh Stinson struck out six batters over two scoreless innings to keep his spotless 0.00 ERA intact. Stinson has allowed just four hits and struck out 13 in nine innings.
Rays: Opening day starter David Price pitched four innings, throwing 73 pitches, 49 for strikes, but gave up three runs on five hits while striking out five and walking one. Price said just four innings in his final start of the spring was always the plan and wasn’t pulled because he gave up back-to-back doubles and a single in the top of the fourth.
"Whenever you have two outs, nobody on, you have to be able to shut those innings down," Price said. "Hands down, this was the most productive spring I’ve ever had and it all feels good."
Price finished with a 3.68 ERA thru 17 1-3 innings, giving up 12 hits, striking out 20 and walking just three.
Orioles: Chris Tillman pitched 4 2-3 innings, throwing 79 pitches, 48 for strikes, and gave up nine hits and two runs. "I feel comfortable going into the season physically, mechanically and mentally," he said.
GUYER GETS THE NOD
Once a minor league journeyman, Brandon Guyer heard the words from manager Joe Maddon. And the 28-year-old outfielder felt nothing but excitement in making his first opening-day roster.
"I was just really happy to hear those words and its been a long journey to get here," said Guyer, who played a combined 18 games with the Rays in 2011-12. "Very humbling."
Guyer had a strong spring, batting .289 over 18 appearances. He had 11 hits, two doubles and an RBI, while walking three times and striking out six. The Rays risked losing Guyer on the waiver wire if they optioned him to the minor leagues.
Guyer said he felt the most healthy he had ever coming into camp, especially following shoulder surgery, but also worked at improving his nutrition.
"This is a pretty young team and I’m really excited for the opportunity with one of the best teams in baseball," Guyer said. "This is really just the beginning and I have a lot of work to do, but I would’ve been disappointed (not to make the team), but I felt I was in a good spot this year."
The Rays released veteran right-handed relief pitcher Mark Lowe on Wednesday afternoon, just days before his option to opt out of his contract would expire. Lowe had a good showing in spring, with a 0.87 ERA in 10 1-3 innings in seven appearances. He gave up 11 hits and a walk while striking out 12. He lost a bullpen spot to Cesar Ramos, Josh Lueke and/or Brandon Gomes.
"I did what I came here to do and I’m leaving healthy. I’ve never had a spring goes this well, though," Lowe, 30, said. "I have nothing but respect for this organization, but I’ve seen this before in Spring Training, so I come to expect the worst, that way I’m not caught off guard if it happens and I’m surprised if I make the team."
Lowe is free to sign with another major league team and said he is still gauging a few teams’ interest.
The Orioles optioned right-hander Steve Johnson and outfielder Henry Urrutia to Triple-A Norfolk. Outfielder Quintin Berry and infielder Alexi Casilla were reassigned to minor league camp. The O’s now have 36 players at major league camp.
ZOBRIST WHERE HE BELONGS
All-Star utility player Ben Zobrist saw action as an outfielder in just 42 games in 2013 and his appearances in the outfield have dropped since playing outfield in a career-high 110 games in 2010.
This spring, Zobrist hasn’t left the infield, primarily being featured as the starting second baseman, just as he was in 2013 — part of an infield that made just 36 errors, fewest in the majors. Maddon says Zobrist is best suited to stay in the infield, but could still see time in the outfield.
"We’d probably give him a few days’ notice, but to see him out there more, it would be something that was injury related," Maddon said.
Orioles: Reimold will start the season on the disabled list. Reimold has had two surgeries since mid-2012 to repair disks in his neck, but Showalter has kept Reimold out of most of the spring. Showalter said Reimold still has pain when he looks up to catch flyballs. Reimold batted just .195 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 40 games in 2013 and signed a one-year, $1-million deal earlier this year to avoid arbitration.