Brad Miller hits first HR of spring as Rays top Red Sox split squad
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) -- Brad Miller hit his first home run this spring and seven relievers combined to allow one run on four hits as the Tampa Bay Rays topped a Boston Red Sox split squad 5-1 on Friday.
Dana Eveland allowed Boston's run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly from Brennan Boesch that scored Blake Swihart. Danny Farquhar, Alex Colome, David Carpenter, Xavier Cedeno, Steve Geltz and Enny Romero combined to pitch seven scoreless innings.
Before the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash announced closer Brad Boxberger underwent abdominal muscle surgery in Philadelphia on Thursday and will miss at least eight weeks.
In 2015, the 27-year-old righty was 4-10 with a 3.71 ERA and 74 strikeouts. He led the American League with 41 saves and earned his first All-Star selection.
"It's a blow because he's so valuable to our team, especially at the back end of a game," Cash said. "We have a number of guys that could try to fill that void for the first month of the year. . We will close how it matches up (during the game) and who is ready to pitch on each given night."
Farquhar, a contender to take over for Boxberger, pitched 1 2-3 innings Friday, allowing a hit and getting a strikeout. He has the most experience in the closer role. In 2013 with Seattle, he recorded 16 saves and struck out 79 with a 4.20 ERA over 55 2-3 innings.
"Really, I just want to make the team more than anything," Farquhar said. "If things fall into place, then it happens and I'm the closer, (but) somebody would be lying to you if they said they didn't want to close out games. That's the No. 1 job in the bullpen, and I would absolutely love it."
Mikie Mahtook, Logan Morrison and Taylor Motter each drove in a run, while Miller hit his homer to straightaway center field.
"Brad Miller hit about 25 balls out today at BP," Cash said. "He was smoking them before the game. I was throwing to him and I just watched them go over my head."
Boston starter Roenis Elias pitched four innings, allowing one earned run on five hits.
Rays minor leaguer Granden Goetzman blasted a solo homer over the left field boardwalk in the eighth.
RAYS STAYING PUT
Matt Silverman, Rays president of baseball operations, said that despite the setback of losing Boxberger, the team will not pursue any outside help or trades to bolster the bullpen.
"We have guys that have experience closing or pitching in the ninth inning," Silverman said during the game. "I think it's going to be team approach, a bullpen approach with the guys we have. It adds some competition in the bullpen, which is a good thing, and I think we'll see some guys step up."
Candidates likely to get a chance a closing out games are Colome, Cedeno, Farquhar, Geltz and Ryan Webb. Silverman stressed that looking for available players or trades isn't ideal at the start of the season.
"Right now, we're focused on adding depth to the bullpen because we know Brad will be back," Silverman said. "We expect to have him most of the season, so keeping (the bullpen) together for as long as we can is something we need to focus on."
Red Sox: INF Marco Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket and RHP Kyle Martin was reassigned to minor league camp.
Rays: Eveland pitched two innings, throwing 30 pitches, 22 for strikes. A run scored on Eveland in the first when Steve Pearce committed a throwing error trying to start a double play. Eveland, a non-roster invitee, walked two and struck out one.
Red Sox: Elias threw 54 pitches, 35 for strikes, over four innings and struck out five batters.
Rays: 3B Evan Longoria sat out with a sore shin after fouling a ball off his leg Thursday in Clearwater vs. Philadelphia. Cash said he expects Longoria to return to the lineup Saturday. "He's just playing it smart," he added. . RF Corey Dickerson was also out of the lineup because of a blood blister on his right ring finger. Cash said Dickerson took BP on Friday and is expected to return to the lineup Saturday. Dickerson has not played since Sunday when he the DH vs. Boston.
Red Sox: RF Brennan Boesch is out indefinitely after fracturing his right wrist in the third inning while diving for a shallow pop fly from Rays OF Steven Souza Jr. Boesch was a non-roster invitee for the Red Sox.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer will make his fourth start of the spring vs. Baltimore in Port Charlotte. The Rays' opening day starter last pitched Monday and allowed two runs on four hits to Atlanta. RHP Yovani Gallardo is set to take the mound for the Orioles.
Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly will start vs. St. Louis on Saturday, with relievers Koji Uehara and Carlos Marmol scheduled to make appearances. The Cardinals will send RHP Michael Wacha to the mound.