KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Wade Davis’ longest start of the spring was also his most important.
And it ended up being the most encouraging.
After surrendering 12 runs over his previous two outings — a span of 6 1/3 innings — Davis was far better against the Astros at Osceola County Stadium on Thursday, giving up three runs (one earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out five in six-plus innings.
Davis, who threw about 90 pitches and will probably scale it back in his final spring start, was battling a stomach virus when he took the mound against the Twins on Saturday and was getting shelled for eight runs in 3 1/3 innings.
The 25-year-old needed a solid start, and he got one.
“That was my goal — to go out today and have a good, quality outing,” Davis said. “Get some ground balls and get some double plays, and I was happy with that. it was a big deal to get stretched out early.”
Davis bounced back nicely after a first inning that saw the Astros plate two runs on two hits and an error, stranding four baserunners while keeping Houston scoreless for the next five innings.
Managers and pitching coaches often talk about the need for starters to go “up and down” as they prepare their arms for the rigors of a regular season. That means it’s just as important for a pitcher’s arm to get used to cooling down and then heating back up as it is for them to ramp up pitch counts.
With that in mind, Davis took the mound for the start of the seventh. And even though he gave up a leadoff homer to J.R. Towles before being removed, manager Joe Maddon was pleased with that — among other things.
“I thought it was important to get him into the seventh,” Maddon said after his club’s 11-3 win. “I liked how he developed a rhythm about himself. The tempo got better as the game got deeper, and that was the most encouraging part.”
Manny and Maddon are a good baseball match
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Manny Ramirez wanted to make the long bus trip from Port Charlotte, Fla., to Kissimmee to play the Astros on Thursday, but at the last minute, his new manager decided to hold him back.
Joe Maddon loves enthusiasm, and most of the time, he’ll give a veteran, Hall of Fame-caliber player such as Ramirez the benefit of the doubt. but in this particular situation, the veteran was overruled.
So Ramirez, batting .350 with three homers and nine RBIs in 17 Grapefruit League contests, worked out at the Rays’ complex after playing in two of the previous three games.
“He had told me he wanted to play the other day, but it was hot again yesterday, it’s a long ride,” Maddon explained. “One of the things I want to do is try to preserve the guy, not beat him up. And he’s doing really well. so I’d rather him not make this ride today.”
Maddon isn’t your traditional manager, which can only benefit a free spirit like Ramirez. Maddon doesn’t really believe in dress codes, he’ll never judge a player until getting to know him first and he’s as open-minded as they come at age 57.
Maddon believes that the key to having a good relationship with Ramirez boils down to one simple concept — communication.
“You’re talking about a Hall of Fame player,” Maddon said about his designated hitter. “He’s pretty good. I have a lot of respect for that. He’s going to be afforded different concessions or considerations than a first- or second-year guy is. now, at the end of the day, he’s got to fit in regarding how we play the game. but when it comes to personal situations and listening to what he has to say, quite frankly, I’m going to listen to him a little bit more.”
No injury for Farnsworth after scary moment
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Rays manager Joe Maddon feared the worst when he darted out of the dugout bathroom in the bottom of the seventh and saw potential closer Kyle Farnsworth lying on the ground, holding his knee.
But the incident wasn’t as serious as initially perceived.
Farnsworth’s knees banged together after he’d fielded a comebacker off the bat of his first Astros hitter, Anderson Hernandez, and the right-hander was immediately taken out of the game for precautionary reasons. four days earlier, the 34-year-old had hyperextended his left knee while facing the Yankees, and Maddon wasn’t taking any chances.
“Two times, I just wanted to be more cautious,” Maddon said.
Farnsworth compared the incident with hitting his funny bone and said that he could have stayed in the game if needed. now he’ll regroup and look to make a previously scheduled appearance against the Pirates on Friday.
Farnsworth, who wound up recording the out, has a 3.38 ERA in eight innings this spring.
Jaso OK, but could miss playing time
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — John Jaso, out since being hit by a baseball in the groin area in Saturday’s game against the Twins, stayed away from baseball activities at the Rays’ complex on Thursday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Jaso is fine, but the question is what he can tolerate, baseball-wise, meaning he could be held out of game action until early next week.
“It could be by the end of this week, it could be into next week, I’m just not sure,” Maddon said.
If Jaso has to start the season on the disabled list, Jose Lobaton, who caught starter Wade Davis against the Astros at Osceola County Stadium on Thursday, has a shot to make the club.
“He’d be a good candidate,” Maddon said when asked about Lobaton. “He’s doing really well right now.”
Other than Jaso and backup Kelly Shoppach, Lobaton and Craig Albernaz are the only catchers remaining in camp. Albernaz is a non-roster invitee who has only had one at-bat this spring, while Lobaton is on the 40-man roster — batting .360 with a homer and six RBIs in 16 games heading into Thursday.
If Lobaton does start the season with the club, he won’t be used as a traditional backup catcher, per se. Maddon said he’d probably decide who starts based on opposing starters. Lobaton is a switch-hitter, and Shoppach hits right-handed.
“His handling of the pitching staff has been impressive,” Maddon said about Lobaton. “He’s been making very well-timed trips to the mound. I think he’s showing imagination calling the game, and he’s also swinging the bat well. I think the concern with me would be the defensive side of things, and I like what he’s doing right now.” Worth noting
It’s tough to acquire proven relievers at this stage of the season, but if the Rays don’t bring in somebody from the outside, manager Joe Maddon is happy with the guys he has, saying, “If we were to get somebody significant, absolutely, that’d be great. It’s hard to get significant pieces right now, especially in the bullpen. so with that, I’m happy with what we’ve got right now.” … MLB Network will feature the Rays in its “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday. … Right-handers Joel Peralta, Rob Delaney and Adam Russell each threw in a Minor League game at Port Charlotte, Fla. Peralta struck out one and gave up no runs in 1 1/3 innings, Delaney threw a scoreless frame and Russell gave up two runs in his one inning. … Left fielder Johnny Damon drew four walks on Thursday.
<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110324&content_id=17095852¬ebook_id=17104902&vkey=notebook_tb&c_id=tbtag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110324″>Davis gets the solid start he needed
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