Tampa Bay Rays
Rays Notes: Slumping Scott takes extra BP
ST. PETERSBURG - DH
Luke Scott took early batting practice Wednesday afternoon with hitting coach Derek Shelton.
Scott entered Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox with seven hits in his last 55 at-bats, a .127 average that dropped his batting average to a season-low .215.
“My contact point’s been probably a little deep and my bat head has just been a little bit underneath the ball,” Scott said. “I’ve hit a lot of balls straight up in the air. I’ve had a lot of fly balls and pop-ups.”
As if to illustrate his point, Scott flied out to right field in his first at-bat with two runners on base.
Scott said he’s trying to find the swing that sprayed line drives to both gaps during spring training. He said it disappeared during his stint on the disabled list. “Keep digging, eventually you’ll find gold,” he said of his early work with Shelton. Manager Joe Maddon said Scott’s numbers aren’t as bad as the batting average would suggest. Maddon mentioned Scott’s 16 walks in 126 plate appearances. That 12.6 percentage matches his career best (2007 with Houston).
Maddon also likes the fact that Scott had 20 RBIs in 107 at-bats prior to Wednesday’s game.
“If you drive in 20 points for every 100 at-bats, that’s a pretty good hitter,” Maddon said. “Just more recently, the contact hasn’t been as consistently hard, but I believe it’ll come back to him.”
Scott admitted he sometimes thinks too much in the batter’s box. Maddon agreed.
“He’s a little bit of a Mr. Goodwrench. He’ll overanalyze sometimes, and that can get in the way at some point,” Maddon said. “I would just prefer that he goes out there and throws caution to the wind as opposed to his normal personality. Something like that, I think, might help. Just let it go a little bit. Let it rip.”
Scott, no stranger to a slump, said he sometimes knows when he’s escaped one with a single swing. He then begins hitting baseballs to the left-field gap and maybe pops an opposite-field home run.
“That’s when you say I’m just going to put a saddle on it,” Scott said. “That’s how it’s been in the past. You can’t predict the future, but that’s been some experiences in the past.”
Hellickson looks for third straight victory RHP Jeremy Hellickson returns to the mound tonight after winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He hasn’t won three consecutive starts since April 28-May 8, 2011.
The key is Hellickson is throwing his fastball and change-up down in the strike zone. Also, he hasn’t allowed a walk in either of his past two starts.
“I really haven’t done anything different,” Hellickson said. “My thoughts haven’t been any different. Like I said, I’ve made a few mistakes the last few games and just gotten away with them. I wasn’t getting away with them earlier in the year. I’m just throwing strikes with everything right now and have confidence in all three of my pitches ahead in the count, which I did earlier in the year but it wasn’t showing.”
Second-round pick Unroe agrees to terms Second round pick SS Riley Unroe agreed to terms with the Rays and will join the Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte. Terms were not released, but it is believed that Unroe agreed to a figure near the $928,000 slotted for his pick.
The Rays also signed RHP John Farrell (21st round), LHP Stone Speer (25th), RHP Hyrum Formo (27th), LHP Derek Lorea (28th) and RHP Colton Reavis (30th). They have signed six of their 41 picks.
Noteworthy LHP David Price is scheduled to throw a simulated game this afternoon. If all goes well, he could begin his rehab assignment Tuesday. … The eight home runs hit in the first two games against Boston already matched the Rays’ record for a three-game series at Tropicana Field. … Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy and ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Sara Walsh, a Gulf High graduate, threw out first pitches before Wednesday’s game.
Stu Sternberg: Top choices for new stadium are unavailable, but Rays still hope to find a new home in Tampa Bay