Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: RHP Hernandez keeps getting better’
PORT CHARLOTTE - RHP
Roberto Hernandez, competing with RHP Jeff Niemann for the final spot in the Tampa Bay rotation, allowed one run on three hits in six innings Thursday in the Rays’ 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays.
“He keeps getting better,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I told him that in the dugout. Every time we send him back out there he looks better. Command’s gotten better, velocity’s gotten better. Everything. Balls on the ground. Everything you would expect of him keeps getting better every time out.”
Hernandez got 12 of his 15 outs with ground balls.
Niemann starts today against the visiting Orioles. Maddon said both pitchers will make another start before the decision is made on who remains in the rotation and who heads to the bullpen.
“Right now you’re just trying to make your best determination, who gives you the best chance to get off to a good start as a starter and who folds well back into the pen,” Maddon said. Rodney’s good-luck plantain The plantain closer Fernando Rodney kept tucked in his belt during the final two rounds of the WBC was a gift from a fan who attended the Dominican’s semifinal game with Japan.
“He said, ‘Rodney, you need that.’ I said, ‘Gimme,’ ” said Rodney, who said he traded an autographed baseball for the plantain. “It was good luck. It bring energy. It was my appetizer for my teammates every day. That’s why we had so much energy. Mission accomplished.”
Rodney said he has not traded the plantain for his imaginary arrows. He said a new supply will be delivered by Opening Day.
“A lot of arrows, 162,” he said.
Fuld returns OF Sam Fuld felt so good Thursday morning after working with first-base coach George Hendrick on outfield drills that he played in a minor-league game in the afternoon.
Fuld, who hasn’t played since March 3 because of a tight right hamstring, was 0-for-3 with a walk.
“It was good,” he said.
Fuld said he might play the outfield today during a minor-league game.
Moore gets his work in LHP Matt Moore’s start Wednesday night was rained out. His next start is Monday. In order to get him his work and keep him in line for that start, Moore threw 60 pitches Thursday in a simulated game.
“I thought he kept getting better,” said Maddon, who watched Moore pitch. “He and (pitching coach Jim Hickey) were working on some stuff, and I thought he finished really well, which is always encouraging to see that.”
Noteworthy C Jose Molina also returned to camp from his WBC stint with Puerto Rico and had six at-bats in a minor-league game. Molina said there is enough time in camp for him to get the necessary plate appearances to be ready for the season. … 3B Evan Longoria hit his team-leading sixth double. … Jays RF Jose Bautista homered off the tiki bar in left-center field. “I think it should be free Miller Lites when that happens, regardless of if it’s a visiting player who does that,” Maddon said.