A grand slam's worth of notes as the Tampa Bay Rays prepare for the start of the 2016 season, courtesy of Rotowire:
Evan Longoria is "fine" and will play one of the next two days according to manager Kevin Cash, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Cash described Longoria as "more or less resting", and emphasized that he's continued to do all of his regular work in the batting cage and the field despite not having participated in game action since last Sunday. Although he is not expected to play in the Rays' Wednesday tilt against a Red Sox split squad, Longoria is on track to be in the starting lineup for Tampa's Opening Day tilt versus the Blue Jays.
Chris Archer is also fine after being knocked down by a line drive Tuesday in an intrasquad game, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.The Rays ace was felled by a shot off the bat of catcher Rene Rivera, with the ball initially deflecting off Archer's glove before making contact with his right hip. "In my mind, I was fine. I wasn't worried," Archer said. "But given the circumstance five days before the season starts, I think people were a little nervous. I knew because I'd been hit a lot, it didn't get me square, and it didn't get me in a spot where I would have to come out." Archer was throwing in the intrasquad game after his scheduled Triple-A start against the Twins was scratched due to weather concerns for that contest. He surrendered six hits over four innings and 63 pitches to his teammates, in what served as a final tune-up for his Opening Day matchup versus the Blue Jays this coming Sunday.
Matt Andriese, competing for a bullpen spot, was solid in a rain-shortened outing versus the Blue Jays Tuesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Andriese allowed just a single to Josh Donaldson over his two innings of work, and then threw two additional simulated frames in the covered bullpen area. "I felt good," he said. "I was out there attacking the zone and just trying to be aggressive. It's kind of tough when you know the rain is coming, so you're just trying to make it quick. But I got my work in and I'll go from there." The 26-year-old right-hander has acquitted himself well this spring in a bid for a possible middle-relief role, posting a 1-0 record and 1.13 ERA while striking out six over eight exhibition innings.
Brad Miller's role as the full-time shortstop in 2016 was confirmed by manager Kevin Cash, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Cash dismissed any possibility of a platoon with Tim Beckham, who has only managed a .129 average this spring. In turn, Miller, acquired in a November trade with the Mariners, has produced a .296 average with a homer, four RBI and a stolen base over his 27 at-bats. Despite a propensity for some inefficiency at the plate, Miller served as a solid source of extra-base hits, home runs and RBI relative to his 327 at-bats in 2015. With a significant boost in plate appearances on the horizon in the coming season, he could turn into an above-average infield option in all formats.