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Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
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Tampa Bay Rays

Salazar closer to roster spot

PORT CHARLOTTE - OF Jeff Salazar remains as the lone in-house candidate to fill one of the outfield spots after the Rays reassigned OF Jesus Feliciano and utility fielder Will Rhymes to minor-league camp. Manager Joe Maddon said things look good for Salazar, but that he has not officially made the Opening Day roster because executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is still searching for help from outside the organization. "Right now Sally is still here, but that doesn't mean he's on the team, yet," Maddon said. Also, there is the possibility OF Brandon Guyer, optioned to minor-league camp March 18, can rejoin the team.
Salazar, who played parts of four big-league seasons with the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Pirates, said his approach won't change even though he's close to making the team. "Really, my mindset won't change," he said. "It's the same thing yesterday as it will be tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed in this life. I haven't been told I'm definitely on the team by any means, so I understand it as come out and keep playing hard, keep working out. That's what's put me in this situation to begin with. I don't see any reason to change it." Maddon said Salazar remains in camp because he had better at-bats, played better defense and has a better arm and shows the potential for more power than Feliciano or Rhymes. "We thought he really showed a little bit better even though the other guys did a great job, too," Maddon said. Peralta excited about outing vs. Red Sox RHP Joel Peralta had his first perfect inning of the spring Saturday and pumped his fist as he headed to the dugout after getting two strikeouts and a popup during the second inning of the Rays' 7-7 tie with the Red Sox. "After I went to (the) first hitter I was like, this is me, just throw the ball in the middle and let them get outs themselves. … It's awesome to feel that way," Peralta said. Peralta has struggled this spring. He brought a 6.75 ERA into his outing against the Red Sox and wondered if not playing winter ball led to his problems. "I'm not going to say just because (I didn't play in the winter), but I know last year at this point I was feeling way stronger, my arm strength was way stronger than it is right now. It's probably that, who knows," Peralta said. "But I think my biggest problem was mechanically right now. Arm strength is not there right now. Still working on trying to get it." Niemann's blister RHP Jeff Niemann, scratched from Saturday's game because of a blister on his right middle finger, said he expects to throw a bullpen today and be ready for the regular season. "I'm just trying to make sure it heals, that's the biggest thing," Niemann said. "It was pretty big and pretty deep, so the skin is real soft under it. We have to be pretty cautious to not rip it and go back to square one." The lead bulls Maddon held a meeting Saturday morning with the players he identified as leaders to share ideas and get everyone on the same page. Borrowing from a chapter in James Michener's 1974 novel "Centennial," in which Native Americans were able to get food and clothing from buffalos by getting the lead bull to run off a cliff while the rest of the herd followed, Maddon called it his "lead bull" meeting. "Never having been a major-league player, I've learned lot from major-league players, as much as anybody else since I've been doing this," Maddon said. "I try to never miss an opportunity to be taught, and to sit down with the guys like that I think is very educational for me, too." Noteworthy T.J. Andrews, 11, of Climax, Ga., and his family are guests of SS Reid Brignac this weekend. Andrews lost the fingers on his left hand a year ago today. Brignac visited him at Tampa General Hospital after the incident and the two have stayed in touch. … RHP James Shields cut the legs off the uniform pants worn by Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey during BP because the Rays were to wear shorts while working out on a back field. … DH Luke Scott, 3B Evan Longoria and 1B Carlos Peña homered for the Rays. … RHP Wade Davis allowed five runs (one earned) in three innings. Maddon said Davis pitched well but was undermined by four errors, including two (fielding and throwing) committed by Davis on a bunt. Roger Mooney
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