MONTGOMERY, Ala. — RHP Chris Archer walked the streets near Riverwalk Stadium on Saturday, reflecting on his season with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits while hoping to grab lunch at the Deli at Alley Station, his favorite eatery when he pitched here.
The deli was closed, and that was about the only thing that didn’t go Archer’s way Saturday — or this spring, for that matter.
Archer pitched four scoreless innings against the Biscuits during his final tuneup for his first regular-season start Thursday against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.
“I felt great, and it came from feeling strong kinetically,” Archer said. “I just felt like I was in a good place, not only with my mind, but my body was working pretty well on top of that.”
Archer said he spent part of his walk people-watching, going over the game plan for his start and thinking back to the 2011 season, when he was 8-7 with a 4.42 in 25 starts. He walked 80 batters in 134ß innings that season. He walked only 38 in 128ª big-league innings last year.
“I had a completely different mentality,” he said. “The less I try to do, the better I perform. When I was here I was trying to do so much. I was trying to prove that I can be successful, not only in Double-A but at the big-league level. I got a little ahead of myself.”
Opening Day lineup?
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he will announce his Opening Day lineup today, but the one he used in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Biscuits will be similar to the one he uses Monday against the Blue Jays.
LF David DeJesus will hit leadoff against Toronto RHP R.A. Dickey. He will be followed by RF Wil Myers, 2B Ben Zobrist, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B James Loney, CF Desmond Jennings, DH Matt Joyce, the catcher (Maddon hasn’t decided on Jose Molina or Ryan Hanigan, though Moline usually catches LHP David Price) and SS Yunel Escobar.
Escobar batted eighth Saturday, while Class A catcher Justin O’Conner batted ninth. Escobar could bat eighth Monday.
More Montgomery memories
Jennings received the loudest ovation during pregame introductions as fans at Riverwalk Stadium gave it up for the former Biscuit who grew up about 90 minutes north of Montgomery.
Jennings, Archer and Longoria were the only Biscuit alumni on the traveling squad. Joyce won the 2005 Division II national title for Florida Southern at the stadium, built on the site of a Civil War prisoner of war camp.
“I had fun playing here,” Jennings said. “It was probably my best season.”
Jennings, who also lost the state title game during his senior year of high school at the stadium, was the 2009 Southern League MVP and Rays minor-league player of the year.
Longoria was the 2007 Southern League MVP. The year before, he helped the Biscuits to the Southern League title with a walk-off home run to beat Jacksonville in the semifinals. Longoria said his stop in Montgomery was the best time of his minor-league career and felt winning the league championship was an important moment in his development.
“Being exposed to that was kind of beneficial,” he said. “It kind of set the tone of how the organization in my eyes would be for the foreseeable future. We win in this organization.”
Joyce was 0-for-6 against North Florida in the 2005 title game.
“I was the only one who didn’t get a hit,” Joyce said. “But it was a cool experience.”
Comings and goings
Maddon was sad to see INF Jayson Nix traded Friday to the Phillies for cash considerations, but he was glad to hear that INF Wilson Betemit likely will accept his assignment to Triple-A Durham. RHP Mark Lowe agreed to a minor-league contract with the Indians rather than accept his assignment to Durham.
“I’m very happy for Jayson Nix,” Maddon said. “There’s going to come a point where we get to work together. I don’t even know this guy, but I hold him in Gabe Kapler esteem.”
RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right elbow surgery) and INF Tim Beckham (right knee surgery) will be placed on the disabled list today as the Rays set their roster by the 3 p.m. deadline.
Oviedo, who he didn’t join the team until March 15 because of visa issues, will be eligible to return April 14.
Oviedo pitched a perfect inning and said his arm felt good. ... O’Conner doubled in each of his first three at-bats. He also threw out two base stealers. ... DeJesus left the game after fouling a ball off his right leg but Maddon said he is fine. ... Tampa Bay is 2-4-1 when playing a minor-league affiliate.