Rays pitchers benefit from early rainout decision
Price among hurlers to get work in despite cancellation with Orioles
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Given the nasty front that soaked the west coast of Florida on Thursday morning, the fact that the Rays-Orioles game in Sarasota was cancelled didn't surprise anyone.
The Rays were just appreciative that the game got called early.
"When you do it this way, and I've got to give the Orioles credit for stepping up on that, because we've got to drive [on the bus north on Interstate 75 to Sarasota] and then if we go up there and it gets cancelled, it really makes for a miserable day mentally for a lot of people," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And it's not just the players, it's the support group and everybody else that's involved with this, so thanks to the Orioles that they did that. It permitted us to get our work in, and have a decent day and move on to the next one."
Having the pitchers who were scheduled to pitch on Thursday get their work in proved to be the most significant thing accomplished by the Rays.
"That's always the most important thing," Maddon said. "The players could use a day off -- especially the catchers today. ... If there was a scheduled off-day today, I would have been happy to begin with."
David Price would have started against the Orioles on Thursday, so he led off the parade of hurlers getting in their work. First, he threw on the field at Charlotte Sports Park before moving underneath cover to finish his work in the batting cages.
"David, I was watching him, whether it was on the field or in the cage area, so focused, so into it," Maddon said. "[Josh] Lueke threw the ball really well, [Alex] Colome, they were totally into what they were doing. And Heath Bell, I had a chance to stand behind the cage and watch the movement. So mission accomplished regarding the pitchers. I think the fact that we made the audible as early as we did ... and with that, I think we were able to get the primary stuff done."
Price appeared pleased with his work, telling reporters he did not feel as if Thursday was a setback like having a washout would be later in the spring, when he needed to get in more pitches to stretch himself out for the beginning of the season.
"But right now, I don't think so," Price said. "Still being able to go out there, still being able to get your work in, still have hitters in the box. I threw my pitches as hard as I could."
Hitters stood in against Price on the field and in the batting cages, only they didn't swing when they were in the cages, prompting a smiling Price to note: "Struck out a bunch of dudes in the cage."
"It was really good today," said Price, who got up and down three times. "... It's more about the ups and downs than about pitches [at this point]."
Right-handers aiming for measure of success
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Dotting the Rays' roster this spring are a number of vertically challenged hurlers.
Steve Geltz, Brandon Gomes, Joel Peralta, and Kirby Yates are all under 6-feet and all are right-handed, an odd fact based on the composition of most Major League rosters.
"It's a bias," manager Joe Maddon said about the prevailing mentality about short right-handers. "It's an old scouting axiom that is primarily based on a lack of durability and the fact that they think right-handed hitters who see him too often are going to get him because he's not tall enough to create an angle."
Gomes noted that Braves standout reliever Craig Kimbrel is also listed at 5-foot-11 and is right-handed
"I'm actually taller than Kimbrel," Gomes said. "And he's one of the best, if not the best, ever."
Nevertheless, being under 6-feet and right-handed would seem to be a challenge given the landscape of the thinking in today's game.
"I don't think it's a disadvantage," Gomes said. "It's just I feel like some teams won't give you a look just because you might be under 6-foot or whatever their prototypical pitcher is, you might not fit that mold, so you are eliminated by a few teams. But as far as a disadvantage, I don't feel that."
Left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser is generously listed at 6-feet, so he's noticed the lack of height by some of his fellow pitchers.
"I definitely see that we have shorter guys than most other teams," Riefenhauser said. "Some of the guys I work out with during the offseason are monsters, 6-2, 6-5, and they ask, 'Hey, you're probably the shortest guy in the clubhouse.' I'm like, 'You'd be surprised. I'm not the shortest guy, and definitely not the tallest.'
"I don't know why. I think a lot of teams want to draft a bigger guy, his arm angle is going to be kind of high. But I mean look at Kirby, look at Geltz, they've had a ton of success."
Gomes smiled when noting the bottom line: "Ultimately, if you're getting guys out, somebody's going to notice. That's the beauty of baseball. If you're 5-5 or 6-10, you have to put up numbers to be successful. It doesn't matter what you look like."
• So far, 63 of 64 players invited to Rays camp have reported. After resolving his visa issues, infielder Wilson Betemit reported on Thursday morning. Right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo is still dealing with visa issues. Manager Joe Maddon expects Betemit to quickly be ready for action.
• Friday will be the first of six scheduled Rays Spring Training games in which instant replay will be available.
• On March 29, for the third consecutive year, David Price will host the David Price Bowl For Kids' Sake fundraiser. The event has raised $70,000 the past two years for Big Brothers Big Sisters. For more information, visit bbbsfl.org or contact Amy Hollington at 813-769-3636.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.