PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Alex Cobb has been sharp this spring, posting a 2.81 ERA, and he is just two strikeouts shy of James Shields' spring club record of 30.
While Cobb, like other Rays pitchers, has his "swing-and-miss" pitch, he recently noted that he may use this pitch less going forward in order to be more economical. This would allow him to go deeper in a game.
"We all have our swing-and-miss pitches," Cobb said. "Our chase pitch is out of the zone. Depending on the feel of the game, we're going to have to cut those out a little bit.
"Speaking of myself mostly, I'm going to have to not try to get hitters to chase. I'm going to have to get them to swing the bat early. And you know that means throwing more fastballs early in the count.
"If I get to two strikes, I'm going to want to try to play around outside of the zone when I can. But I'm going to have to get two strikes first. And that's going to mean throwing more fastballs, less offspeed stuff out of the zone. I feel like if I throw fastballs early in the count and make the hitters do something, I'll be able to eat up a lot more innings."
Gimenez, Lobaton competing for backup catcher job
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jose Molina will be one of the Rays' catchers, but the question is: Who will back him up?
Chris Gimenez and Jose Lobaton are the candidates to fill the job, and the Rays will need to make a decision in the coming days.
"We've had a lot of good discussions about that, some really good discussions, actually, regarding that particular position," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It is a little bit more clear to us among the group, but there have been a lot of good discussions about that. We have some really difficult problems there. Both guys I think have done relatively well here."
Entering Saturday's action, Gimenez has hit better than Lobaton, posting a .378 spring mark to Lobaton's .188. But Lobaton is a switch-hitter, and, unlike Gimenez, he is out of options.
"There's all different reasons why you do different things," said Maddon when asked if the option consideration would weigh heavily in the decision.
Gimenez hit .310 at Triple-A Durham with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs in 71 games last season. On Aug. 31, the Rays recalled Gimenez and he hit .406 with three doubles, a home run and five RBIs in 18 games to finish out the season.
"I often talk about what a guy does during the season normally carries more weight than what he does during Spring Training," Maddon said. "I thought he finished up well for us. He went back and re-invented his offensive approach in Triple-A last year, and he came up and it carried over with us. Good energy behind the plate, I think the pitchers like throwing to him. So beyond what he's doing at this camp, he made a good impression at the end of last season."
Maddon sees Longoria embracing role as leader
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Joe Maddon noted that Evan Longoria has always strived to be a team leader. Now that the Rays' third baseman has a deal in place that could keep him with the club through 2023, Maddon believes Longoria's efforts to lead have been ratcheted up a notch.
"I do believe that the added stature, in a sense, regarding his new contract, he understands what his role is now and in the future," Maddon said.
"He's handled [the new deal] very well, though. It's not in an ill kind of manner where it's going to turn somebody off. He's done it well and properly and right, I think. And he embraces it. He doesn't run away from it. I think he has a good bedside manner with it.
"And so, it's very helpful to a manager when you get a guy of his abilities, and then now, within the organization the long-term commitment, to have somebody to work with like that, who is bright. His total goal is to win a World Series. It's not about him. And that makes it a lot easier also."
• Kyle Farnsworth left Saturday's game after trying to bare hand Chris Colabello's single through the middle of the field. The veteran righty managed to get his right hand on the ball, which left him with a bruised middle finger.
"I believe he's going to be fine," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who noted that the decision to take him out of the game had been precautionary.
• The Rays announced another wave of roster cuts after Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Twins. Right-handers Dane De La Rosa and Kirby Yates, infielder/outfielder Leslie Anderson, outfielder Rich Thompson and infielder Cole Figueroa were reassigned to Minor League camp. Meanwhile, veteran outfielder Jack Cust was released.
• Joel Peralta turned 37 on Saturday and arrived at the clubhouse to find his locker decorated in a fashion to remind him that he is one of the team's elder statesmen. A banner hung over his locker read: "Look Who's Over the Hill." A pop-up floor sign read: "Caution, Slow Senior, Old Zone." The attention made Peralta chuckle.
"Awesome, I love it," he said. "They surprised me. I didn't know anything about this."
• In Friday's 6-4 loss to the Pirates in Bradenton, catcher Craig Albernaz went 1-for-1 with a ninth-inning single, his first career spring hit in his fifth Major League Spring Training. The Eckerd College graduate had been 0-for-8 prior to the hit.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.