Today’s an off-day for the Rays and a chance to relax and reflect on everything that has happened so far in spring training. Three things in particular have to be on the Rays’ mind.
It was certainly disconcerting when Luke Scott was removed from last Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Reading these three sentences from Roger Mooney of Tampa Bay Online will only get Rays fans more concerned.
"Yet, given his history of hamstring issues, that Scott had to leave a game with a tight hamstring sustained while running out a fly ball has caught the Rays attention.Also, Scott is coming off an injury plagued 2012 season that saw him head to the disabled list once with an oblique strain and again because of back stiffness. Both were not believed to be serious as the time Scott was injured."
Mooney’s article also featured several quotes from Joe Maddon regarding the injury. He initially said that Scott was “fine,” but Maddon later said “we’ll wait and see,” and that can’t be a great sign. But while no one is taking any chances with Scott given his injury history, it seems like he’ll get back into action soon. Scott told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that “everything feels fine,” and Maddon told Topkin that Scott could get return to games by this weekend. Scott’s injury concerns are something that the Rays might lose some sleep over the next few nights, but hopefully this is just a momentary blip and he’s primed for a healthy and productive year.
Included in that same Topkin article was a discussion of the other issue making the Rays a little anxious: Matt Moore‘s fastball command. The Rays are depending on Moore to be their 3rd starter this year and take a major step forward after his up-and-down rookie year, and we saw firsthand last season how critical Moore’s command is to his success. But the good news is that Moore already knows what’s going on- “It feels like I’m really not letting my arm catch up enough, whatever it’s doing behind there,”- and now he can work on fixing it. Pitching coach Jim Hickey isn’t thrilled with where Moore is at this point, but he remains positive and also notes that it was just Moore’s second appearance in the spring.
"“I was fine with the way the ball was coming out of his hand, but certainly not where it was crossing home plate or not crossing home plate. The goal for the day was to kind of have a nice path to home and to have the ball come out of his hand nice and clean, and that would translate into throwing strikes.Actually, he did have a decent path to the plate and it came out of his hand OK. He wasn’t really yanking or spiking balls, but a little bit disappointing just because of the fact he was behind some hitters. But overall I’m perfectly happy with what transpired for his second spring outing.”"
Unlike last year, this is happening with spring training still having a month to go and there’s still time to rectify the problem. Moore’s arm motion and command are going to be things to watch the rest of the spring, but the inclinations are that Moore is slowly but surely getting himself right, and by the time the regular season rolls around he should be ready for a big sophomore season in the major leagues.
The other big news around Rays camp is that the Rays are set to shave their heads for the second year in a row to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. This year, though, there’s a twist: the Rays announced the for a $100 donation to the foundation, Rays fans can have their heads shaved along with the Rays and receive a “Fortune Favors the Bald” T-shirt. For the fans who appreciate their hair a little bit more, you can also donate $10 by texting “Cut” to 50555. It’s always amazing to see the Rays getting involved in their community and willing to donate to donate their time, money, and hair for such an important cause in cancer research. Should be an exciting event once again, especially with a few brave fans joining the fray.