Tampa Bay Rays LHP Matt Moore was hit around during Monday night’s start against the Pirates but allowed only a pair of runs.
Moore, who has struggled this spring with his velocity and command, allowed six hits and walked five in his 4 2/3 innings. He threw 106 pitches, 60 for strikes.
“I’ve been trying to have a consistent feel for my fastball,” Moore said. “To find that overall feel for the heater from the get-go was a little tough.”
Moore fell behind often and said he joked with pitching coach Jim Hickey that he was working on making pitches with his back to the wall.
With Opening Day now a week away, Moore said he isn’t too concerned about his command issues.
“I’m pretty competitive,” he said. “It’s not so much that I can turn it on, but when the time comes around and I’m battling in those moments, when I have runners in scoring position, it’s better (when it’s the regular season).”
3B Evan Longoria hit his first homer of the spring in the Rays’ 6-2 win against the Pirates.
“Shoot, the wind usually blows in from dead left here, so I don’t usually put too much emphasis on hitting the ball that way,” Longoria said. “I had a couple of good at-bats where I put the barrel on the ball and that’s been my focus, having good at-bats, and when the ball is in the zone, barreling them up.”
DH Shelly Duncan hit his team-high fifth homer. He also doubled.
2B Ben Zobrist hit his second homer of the spring, a drive to right that bounced off the glove of Pirates RF Jose Tabata and over the fence into the Rays bullpen.
It was a sloppy game with the teams combining for four errors. Longoria made two on one play when he booted a ground ball with a runner on first, then threw past Zobrist, who was covering second base in an effort to get the force out.
Manager Joe Maddon said the decision on the fifth member of the rotation — RHP Jeff Niemann or RHP Roberto Hernandez — will be decided after Niemann’s start on Wednesday. The runner-up goes to the bullpen as the long reliever, but Maddon said that won’t weigh much in the decision.
“Part of it will be feel. Part of it (is) sometimes you have to make your best guess, too, based on the fact you’re getting limited chances to see each guy,” Maddon said. “Both people have been successful in the past at the major-league level. Both people are capable of performing at a high level in the major leagues as a starting pitcher.
“So I think you don’t chose your starter by saying the other guy is more able to be a reliever. That’s kind of backwards. I think you chose it by, right now, who do you think is the guy you want to start and then applying the other guy to the bullpen.”
Maddon said he will announce the order of the rotation once they settle on the fifth starter.
Niemann will start Wednesday and will be followed by RHP Fernando Rodney and LHP Jake McGee.
RHP Alex Cobb will pitch in a minor-league game Wednesday. He will be followed by RHP Joel Peralta, RHP Kyle Farnsworth and RHP Jamey Wright.
OF Sam Fuld had six plate appearances Monday in a minor-league game, giving him 12 during the past two days. Fuld said that was the best way to test his right hamstring, which tightened on him March 3 and has kept him out of the lineup since that afternoon.
“It feels good. No complaints,” Fuld said. “I tested it a lot of different ways the last few days.”
Fuld said he expects to play Wednesday when the Rays meet the Blue Jays in the final game of the spring at Charlotte Sports Park.
RHP Kyle Farnsworth threw a bullpen Sunday, one day after being removed from his outing with a bruised right middle finger. Farnsworth had tried to field a comebacker with his bare hand.
“All’s good,” Farnsworth said.
The Rays acquired C Curt Casali from the Tigers in exchange for LHP Kyle Lobstein.
Lobstein was selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 Draft in December and quickly traded to the Tigers.
Because the Tigers were not going to keep Lobstein on the 25-man roster this season but wanted to keep him in their organization, they had to send a player to Lobstein’s original team, which was the Rays.
Casali played in Class A last season for the Tigers, batting a combined .270 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 94 games split between Low A and High A teams.
The Rays optioned C Chris Gimenez to Triple-A Durham and reassigned Duncan, INF Mike Fontenot and OF Jason Bourgeois to minor-league camp.
Sending Gimenez out means Jose Lobaton will join Jose Molina as the catchers.
The Rays have until noon today to decide whether to place Jamey Wright on the 25-man roster or option him to Durham and pay him a $100,000 retention bonus. It looks like he will be added to the major-league roster. … DH Luke Scott was scratched from Monday’s start as a precaution because of tightness in his right calf. … OF Wil Myers, nursing a sore wrist, tweeted Monday that he hit off a tee and will take batting practice today. He expects to rejoin Triple-A Durham’s lineup Wednesday. … LHP David Price’s bullpen Monday was filmed for a Major League Baseball documentary that will feature a number of players. … Jaye Maddon, wife of Joe Maddon, ended her seven-day drive across the country Monday in their RV. Jaye drove with her two sons and her two dogs. Along the way she raised money for the Pet Pal Animal Shelter in St. Petersburg with a penny-a-mile pledge.