Don’t expect that the Tampa Bay Rays will ever feature a lineup with Wil Myers leading off and Wilson Betemit batting second at any point in the regular season. In Wednesday’s spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles, though, it worked out quite well.
Fresh off a 3 for 4 day with 3 doubles against the Baltimore Orioles, Wil Myers led off the game with a home run and wound up going 2 for 3 with that homer, a single, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored. It is hard to believe that Myers did not have an extra-base hit in spring training before Tuesday after how well he has played the last two games. Spring training results don’t mean much, but it is nice to see Myers hitting his stride with the start of the season getting closer and closer.
The Rays decided to give Betemit a closer look as they batted him so high up in the lineup. It worked out quite well as he went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored. Betemit has always been a poor defender, but he was a solid hitter, especially against right-handed pitching, from 2010 to 2012. It would take an injury to Matt Joyce or a trade for Betemit to have a chance at a roster spot to begin the year, but would be a tremendous luxury to have a hitter with Betemit’s track record at Triple-A for when the need arises. Joyce did leave this game with a stiff neck, highlighting that you never know when Betemit could be a factor.
In terms of the rest of the offense, Sean Rodriguez and Logan Forsythe lived up to their billings of hitting lefties as Rodriguez drilled a 2-run homer off Wei-Yin Chen and Forsythe had a single on a rocket double. Jayson Nix also homered against Suk-min Yoon, and he gets extra credit because Yoon is right-handed. Nix seems firmly behind Rodriguez and Forsythe in the utility infielder competition, but a shot like that had to turn some heads.
In the 7th inning against Orioles closer Tommy Hunter, the Rays had no outs and nobody on and Cameron Seitzer faced an 0-2 count. He proceeded to single, and Richie Shaffer followed with a line drive hit of his own. Seitzer also made a nice defensive play in the 8th before lining out in the 9th. It was nice to see two of the Rays’ best first base prospects playing well, and Seitzer has especially impressed in his limited time in big league camp, going 3 for 7 with a pair of home runs.
On the pitching side, Mark Lowe got the start and pitched decently, allowing 2 runs (none earned) on 4 hits in 2.1 innings pitched. His fastball was mostly in the 92-93 MPH range and he threw some very good sliders, but his fastball command was off as he allowed several hard hits. Lowe has a 4.17 ERA, a 7.7 K/9, a 4.1 BB/9, and a 1.0 HR/9 in his big league career–he continues to look every bit like that player. He could be a decent option for the Rays, but it would take extraordinary circumstances for him to be anything more.
After Jake McGee retired both batters he faced, throwing a couple good curveballs, Josh Lueke came through with the solid appearance he needed, striking out 1 in a perfect 4th. Lueke has struggled for a long time, but do not count him out just yet. Steve Geltz followed with 2.1 innings, and he showed some great movement on his fastball and some sharp sliders, but like Lowe, his fastball command is a serious issue. He allowed 4 hits including Adam Jones home run. The most impressive pitcher of the game, though, may have been Juan Sandoval, who allowed just 1 hit in his 2.1 innings as he showed devastating late movement on his two-seamer to go along with a solid slider. Matt Lollis, one of the acquisitions in the Alex Torres trade, allowed the runner he inherited from Sandoval to score as he struggled mightily with command before finishing the game. Overall, Lueke and Sandoval looked a little bit more like big league options (although Sandoval will likely spend most of the year at Triple-A), while everyone else failed to prove anyone wrong.
The individual performances matter more in the spring, but the win brought the Rays to 13-4-2, the best record in the Grapefruit League by 1.5 games. Cesar Ramos and Jake Odorizzi will both see time tomorrow as the Rays take on the Minnesota Twins at 7:05 PM.