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Pirates give Rays first spring loss, 10-3

Tony Fabrizio The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 06:21 PM

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BRADENTON -

The Tampa Bay Rays are only starting to figure out how the five prospects they obtained from the Cubs this winter for starting pitcher Matt Garza will fit.

Pitcher Chris Archer, infielder Hak-Ju Lee and catcher Robinson Chirinos have received the most attention, but the eight-player deal also netted a couple of interesting outfielders in 29-year-old Sam Fuld and 25-year-old Brendan Guyer.

Fuld, 0-for-3 as the starting left fielder in the Rays' 10-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Pirates on Sunday, is further along, having played 84 games for the Cubs over the past two seasons.

Guyer, who hit .344 with 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases while playing all three outfield spots at Double-A Tennessee last year, may jump out more for his athletic ability and upside.

"Fuld is a little guy (5-10, 180) whose contact ratio is off the charts," Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "He has probably one of the shortest swings I've ever seen. I mean, he knows what he is. He knows how to handle the bat and doesn't try to do too much.

"And Guyer, I've only seen him in batting practice, but the ball comes off his bat hot. His setup is a little similar to (Evan Longoria's), where he's a little narrow and he has the a little leg kick. But there's some explosion coming off this kid's bat."

Manager Joe Maddon points to Fuld's "freaky-weird" walks-to-hitting ratio - he has walked 325 times and struck out 272 times in his pro career - and calls him "a very good outfielder, very aggressive in his entire game."

He said Guyer is "another confident guy, really strong."

"I knew he was somewhat fast," Maddon said. "But we ran a couple of drills and (bench coach) Davey (Martinez) comes back and says, 'Hey, watch Guyer. He can really run.'

"Well, this guy stole 30 bags last year and hit (13) home runs. That's kind of a nice combination."

Fuld has an economics degree from Stanford, where he was a two-time All-American. His father, Kenneth Fuld, is a dean at the University of New Hampshire, and his mother, Amanda Merrill, is a New Hampshire state senator.

Afflicted with Type 1 diabetes, Fuld gives himself insulin shots and has to check his blood sugar regularly. He says the condition has never caused him a problem "on the field," but concedes it's "mentally taxing at times."

"Every day, it's on my mind," he said. "Every minute, it's on my mind - worrying about regulating my blood sugar. But I have a routine that I stick to and I make sure, especially when I'm playing, to take extra good care of my blood sugar and check myself a few times throughout the game."

Guyer was a running back and linebacker at Herndon (Va.) High and scored seven touchdowns on homecoming night his senior season.

He chose baseball and played it for three years at Virginia, moving to the outfield when he arrived there because current Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had third base won.

After putting together a 26-game hitting streak in his junior season, Guyer was interviewed by Lindsay Murphy, a TV reporter for the local NBC affiliate. They soon began dating and, after a 3 1/2-year courtship, married last month.

Murphy has moved up to Fox 5 in Washington, D.C. Guyer, who has improved his batting average in each of his four pro seasons and led the Southern League in slugging percentage last year (.588), wants to move up as well.

"I put up the best numbers of my career (last year), and I feel like I'm ready for Triple-A or the big leagues," he said.

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