On the first official day of spring, Spring Training baseball hits the home stretch of the Grapefruit League season in Florida. Nine games remain for most teams in the final days of March.
Tuesday night at Hammond Stadium, Minnesota Twins starter Vance Worley allowed 11 hits and seven earned runs in an 11-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays (13-4) got another crack at the Twins (7-9) Thursday night in Port Charlotte.
The two American League rivals meet for the final time this spring on Monday at Hammond Stadium. The Twins take on the Boston Red Sox in their final three games starting Thursday two wrap up the Mayor's Cup series.
Tampa Bay Rays’ first baseman James Loney rounds third and scores in the first inning of Tuesday’s Spring Training game at Hammond Stadium. The Rays and Twins played again Thursday night in Port Charlotte with a rematch at Hammond Stadium coming up on Monday. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com.
Worley's spring ERA rose to 13.50 and didn't get through the third inning.
Among eight Twins out of minor-league options, Worley is battling fellow right-handers Sam Deduno and Kyle Gibson and left-hander Scott Diamond for the final rotation spot.
"First inning I wasn't able to get the ball down in the zone, and they hit the ball pretty much everywhere," Worley said. "Third inning, we thought we had everything on the right path, and everything unraveled again."
Rays left-hander Matt Moore issued six walks in 4 2/3 innings but allowed just one run and was encouraged by his outing amid a rocky spring.
"Everything did feel good, so minus the six walks, a solid day," Moore said. "But those are definitely a black mark."
Rays right fielder Wil Myers returned to the lineup for the first time since fouling a ball off his right leg on Saturday. Myers, who came in hitting .154 this spring, doubled three straight times off Worley and lifted his average to .233.
Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon made his Grapefruit League debut just over one month after undergoing an appendectomy. Florimon had played a total of eight innings on the minor-league side, then had his scheduled debut on Monday rained out in Sarasota.
Against the Rays he went 0-for-3 and played six innings in the field, making a nice play behind the bag to throw out a runner at first.
Twins right-hander Phil Hughes remained on target to start the home opener against Oakland on April 7 with a six-inning outing Tuesday against Class A Frederick of the Baltimore Orioles' system.
Starting for high-Class A Fort Myers, Hughes allowed four hits and a walk while striking out seven. He threw 55 of his 73 pitches for strikes.
Hughes, signed to a three-year, $24 million contract this offseason, had posted a 1.04 ERA in his first three official Grapefruit League starts.
"I couldn't have been more pleased," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "Man, it was fun to watch."
Rays manager Joe Maddon indicated the fifth starter would be named after each of the three remaining candidates made one more start.
Lefty Cesar Ramos and right-hander Jake Odorizzi were scheduled to pitch against the Twins Thursday. Veteran lefty Erik Bedard is scheduled to start Friday against Toronto.
After the game, the Rays reassigned to minor-league camp catcher Eddie Rodriguez and outfielder Jeremy Moore.
In games Wednesday:
Rays 7, Orioles 4: Wil Myers, Sean Rodriguez and Jayson Nix homered, and Tampa Bay scored six runs on 10 hits against Wei-Yin Chin in a win over Baltimore.
Myers opened the game with a drive to center and Rodriguez hit a two-run shot in the third. Both home runs came against Chen, who lasted only 3 2/3 innings.
Nix connected off South Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon, who gave up two hits over two innings in his second appearance.
Cardinals 3, Twins 1: St. Louis' Carlos Martinez and Minnesota's Kyle Gibson each enhanced their chances of earning a spot in their respective rotations with solid outings, and the Cardinals beat the Twins.
Martinez cruised into the fifth, holding the Twins to one hit. Jason Bartlett's RBI single to right-center in the sixth ended the right-hander's scoreless string at 14 innings.
Making his fourth appearance - second start - Gibson limited the Cardinals to Matt Adams' second homer of spring training in 4 1/3 innings. Gibson allowed four hits.