Rays Spring Game 19 Preview: Mark Lowe, Roster Candidates Make Their Case

By Robbie Knopf

When you go to a spring training game, it’s nice to see regulars in the lineup and on the mound. Even more interesting, though, can be seeing not the regulars but the players competing for spots. The closest you can get to a regular season feel is watching the players who know that every at-bat and every pitch is an opportunity to impress. Who will stand out as the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota? Here’s the Rays’ lineup.

1. Wil Myers, RF
2. Wilson Betemit, 1B
3. Matt Joyce, LF
4. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
5. Logan Forsythe, 3B
6. Brandon Guyer, CF
7. Jayson Nix, SS
8. Jerry Sands, DH
9. Curt Casali, C

Starting Pitcher: Mark Lowe

We of course have to start by discussing Wil Myers. Myers is in the leadoff spot for the second straight game after not batting there before in his professional career. It’s understandable that Joe Maddon is keeping him right there after he went 3 for 4 with a trio of doubles on Monday night against the Minnesota Twins. Myers put to rest any concerns after he fouled a ball off his right quad, and he hopes to keep hitting and enter Opening Day with some momentum.

Brandon Guyer is in centerfield this afternoon, and we could be seeing him there occasionally during the regular season when Desmond Jennings gets a day off. Guyer has thoroughly impressed this spring training with his line drive approach, hustle, and strong defense, and he looks like a runaway favorite for a roster spot. Let’s see what he can do this game.

Is four utility infielders enough for one game? Sean Rodriguez, Logan Forsythe, Jayson Nix, and Wilson Betemit are taking up the four infield spots, and especially Nix and Betemit hope to do something to increase their chances. It says something about Nix that the Rays have consistently started him at shortstop over Rodriguez, but with Ben Zobrist able to back up Yunel Escobar at short, that is not enough for him to make the roster. Meanwhile, the Rays continue to show confidence in Betemit, but he has work to do to prove that he is still the player who hit to a .280/.346/.459 line in 1050 major league plate appearances from 2010 to 2012.

In terms of the pitching, Lowe will get the start after allowing just 1 run on 5 hits in his first 6 innings of spring training work, striking out 8 while walking just 1. Lowe’s stuff has looked electric, and the opportunity is there for him to make the roster. He is a non-roster invitee, but the Rays have never let that stop them in recent years. Lowe will be front and center against the Orioles today, and he better take advantage.

After Lowe, we will see Jake McGee, Josh Lueke, Steve Geltz, and Juan Sandoval. With McGee, hopefully we will see a few breaking balls as he continues to work on complementing his fastball. The player to watch, though, is going to be Lueke, who is out of options but has seemingly given the Rays every reason to give up on him this spring training. Lueke needs a solid outing just to remind everyone that he is worth keeping around. For Sandoval, meanwhile, he has shown impressive stuff this spring training, and he will hope to keep pitching well and stay in the back of the Rays’ minds when an opportunity arises down the line.

The game will start at 1:05 PM and is available to watch on MLB.TV. Enjoy the game and check back at Rays Colored Glasses for the recap.