Rays' Smyly sharp in final tuneup for regular season
PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. >> Drew Smyly pitched four hitless innings and struck out seven in his final spring training outing to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-3 victory over a Boston Red Sox split squad Wednesday.
Mike Mahtook and Brad Miller homered off right-hander William Cuevas, who allowed four runs and six hits over 5 2/3 innings for the Red Sox. Miller also had a RBI double off the Red Sox starter.
Smyly retired nine in a row before walking Brock Holt leading off the fourth. He struck out Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz to finish his 61-pitch outing.
The 26-year-old left-hander will begin the regular season as the No. 2 starter in a four-man rotation led by Chris Archer. He was 5-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 12 starts in 2015, when he spent a total of 105 games on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
"I think everyone's getting antsy for the season. They wanted it to start. It's a good way to end (spring training)," said Smyly, who's scheduled to make his season debut next Monday against Toronto.
"I put the most emphasis on my curveball today. To be really aggressive with it. Throw it full speed, try to get some swing and misses," Smyly added. "I got some good results."
Boston's Hanley Ramirez had two hits, including a RBI double, to raise his spring batting average to .320. Travis Shaw singled to drive in the second of three runs the Red Sox scored off reliever Enny Romero in the seventh.
Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo said Ramirez, who's making the transition to everyday first baseman after playing left field last season, has had a good spring.
"He's very engaged on both sides of the ball," said Lovullo, standing in for manager John Farrell, who accompanied another Red Sox split squad on its trip to Bradenton.
"I know he's been working very hard behind the scenes," the bench coach added. "He comes to the ball park early to work on things on the back fields ... and it's playing out for us. He's having a good time. He's making some really nice plays. ... He's very engaged and excited defensively, and offensively it's the same guy that we've been seeing all spring training."
Red Sox: Cuevas, who was reassigned to minor league camp on March 13, made his first appearance for the major league team since working one inning against the Miami Marlins on March 12. Wednesday was his longest outing this spring. Roman Mendez finished the sixth, and Noe Ramirez and Robbie Ross Jr. each pitched one scoreless inning.
Rays: Archer and Smyly are joined in Tampa Bay's rotation by right-hander Jake Odorizzi and lefty Matt Moore. Manager Kevin Cash doesn't anticipate needing a fifth starter until mid-May, so right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will begin the season in the bullpen after making 27 starts and winning 11 games in 2015.
Red Sox: Boston optioned left-handed pitcher Roenis Elias to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Rays: Tampa told 1B James Loney, who fell out of its plans following the offseason acquisition of Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce, that he will not make the team. So far, the veteran of nine big league seasons has not been released or traded.
Relief pitcher David Carpenter and catcher Rene Rivera were released. Right-hander Matt Andriese and infielder Richie Shaffer were optioned to Triple-A Durham.
Parting ways with Rivera, who hit .178 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 110 games last season, leaves Curt Casali and Hank Conger to share the catching duties.
Red Sox: They host Minnesota, with right-hander Clay Buchholz starting for Boston and the Twins sending right-hander Kyle Gibson to the mound.
Ray: They host the Pittsburgh Pirates, with Odorizzi making his final spring start.
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