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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2018
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Tampa Bay Rays

Rays notes: Lineup move made for many reasons

LOS ANGELES — Manager Joe Maddon's lineup took another unconventional twist Sunday night against the Dodgers when he made RHP Jeremy Hellickson just the fourth pitcher during the interleague era to hit higher than ninth, a moved aimed at protecting Wil Myers, who batted second ahead of Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist.
“I think without Myers hitting there he's not going to get pitched to at all,” Maddon said.
Hellickson hit eighth with Jason Bourgeois hitting ninth to create another leadoff hitter of sorts with Sean Rodriguez hitting first.
Another reason: Batting eighth would have brought Hellickson's spot up in the order quicker should Maddon want to pinch-hit for him.
That didn't come into play since Hellickson was pulled after three ineffective innings.
Maddon said he called former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa late last week to discuss the move, because La Russa occasionally moved his pitchers higher in the order.
“I wanted to find out exactly why he's done it,” Maddon said. “I had my ideas and he kind of validated some of that and put his thoughts in it, too. There's reasons to do it where it makes more sense.”
Maddon also said he made the move with his eye on the future.
“You don't do it all the time, or you may not want to do it all the time. All the baseball stars have to align in a sense. All the right reasons have to be present,” Maddon said. “Helly has not been pitching deep into games. I want Myers in the two hole to be protected and pitched at more often, thus you want more people feeding in to him as opposed to the pitcher, one. So all those things are present.
“And the other point is to see how it works. I think it's the perfect moment to try all these different things under the circumstance to see, moving forward, if we happen to get to the World Series, is that something you'd like to utilize and why?”
Hellickson joined former Rays RHP Andy Sonnanstine, who hit third May 17, 2009, against Cleveland; Zack Greinke, who hit eighth as a member of the Royals on June 23, 2009, against the Astros; and the Yankees' David Phelps, who hit eighth May 8 against the Rockies.
Sonnanstine's move up the order was due to an error on the scorecard that listed two third basemen.
Moore throws well
LHP Matt Moore (sore right elbow) threw 50 pitches during a bullpen session before Sunday's game and received a rave review from pitching coach Jim Hickey, who said Moore's fastball was almost at game speed and his curveball might have been his best of the year.
Moore said he will throw another bullpen Wednesday and could rejoin the rotation next weekend.
“That's in a perfect world. That's if everything goes well (Wednesday),” Moore said.
Hickey said he didn't think Moore would need to pitch a simulated game or make a minor-league rehab start unless his return is delayed. It's possible Moore throws two bullpens to build up arm strength before returning.
A starting pitcher hasn't been named for Thursday's game against the Mariners but every indication is that it will be RHP Alex Cobb (concussion/blister). … RHP Kyle Farnsworth was released Sunday.
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