Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Escobar adding to offensive swarm
SS Yunel Escobar was batting .089 on April 17 and promised before the game that night against the Orioles in Baltimore he would continue to work hard so he could help lift a struggling offense.
And that's just what happened.
Escobar has raised his season average to .246 by hitting .298 since then. He is hitting .342 with seven multi-hit games since May 11.
“I just want to have productive at-bats and get on base for the guys in the top of the order,” Escobar said Sunday through bench coach Dave Martinez, who provided the translation.
Manager Joe Maddon said he wants a swarming offense, and the best way to swarm is to get production throughout the entire order. Having a No. 9 hitter who is hot helps, especially one who is a career .282 hitter.
“Without that tough start he'd be talked about very highly among the inner baseball circles right now,” Maddon said. “He's a guy right now you got to look underneath the hood a little bit, see what he's done over the last month. And then for all of us that get to watch him play defense daily, he's been pretty darn good. And even for what he's done offensively, I still think he's the hardest luck guy on this team regarding line drives caught.”
Torres gains confidence The word on LHP Alex Torres since he joined the Rays organization was his career would not advance past Triple-A until he learned to throw his fastball for strikes on a consistent basis.
Torres said he was able to finally harness that while playing winter ball, and the results have paid off with 81/3 scoreless innings over three appearances this season, including a pair of four-inning outings that saved an exhausted bullpen.
“That was my problem my last couple of years,” Torres said. “I could throw strikes but it wouldn't be consistent. That's what I've been doing this year, more consistent with my first-pitch fastball, a strike with more frequency. When I throw my change-up it works because I'm setting it up with my fastball.”
Torres said he expected to be sent back to Durham after his four shutout innings Saturday afternoon in Cleveland. But the Rays can't use the Durham shuttle for a few days since RHP Jake Odorizzi, RHP Alex Colome and LHP Jeff Beliveau are still within the 10-day window when they can't be called up and because the Rays don't have many pitchers on the 40-man roster to choose from.
So Torres will remain with the big club for the foreseeable future, working primarily as the long man in the bullpen.
“I'm available for any spot,” Torres said. “Any spot Joe's going to need me I'm going to be there, long reliever, closer, starter, everything. I don't really care about what they are going to do, what's the best spot they're going to use me.”
Depth with broadcasters, too Todd Kalas will replace Brian Anderson in the TV booth during this series in Detroit, while Anderson takes one of his allotted in-season breaks. Kelly Nash will replace Kalas as the pregame and postgame reporter.
Dave Wills will leave the team after tonight's game to attend his daughter's high school graduation. Neil Solondz will join Andy Freed in the radio booth for the final two games of the series.
Noteworthy 3B Evan Longoria is the only Ray to land in the top five at his position in the AL voting for the All-Star game. Detroit 3B Miguel Cabrera leads all players with 1.5 million votes. Longoria, with 454,047 votes, is fourth behind Baltimore's Manny Machado and Texas' Adrian Beltre. … Durham OF Wil Myers was named the International League player of the week after batting .423 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. … The Rays will honor the Division II national champion University of Tampa baseball team Friday.
What to watch and listen to this week: Where to watch the solar eclipse on TV, Constitutional podcast