PORT CHARLOTTE — Shipping out LHP Anthony Banda on Sunday made clearer who remains in the running for multi-inning jobs in the Rays bullpen.
With RHP Matt Andriese a certainty, the Rays now have four other candidates for three jobs in RHP Yonny Chirinos, RHP Andrew Kittredge, RHP Austin Pruitt and LHP Ryan Yarbrough.
They could have a fifth depending on what they decide to do with veteran LHP Dan Jennings, who has been primarily a short man but may be supplanted in that role by LHP Jose Alvarado.
"We have a lot of decisions that we have to make bullpen-wise," manager Kevin Cash said.
Chirinos had a rough outing Sunday, allowing four runs after a two-out error in the 10-5 win over Detroit, though Cash said the Rays were "not overly concerned" as they seem to like his potential to get ground balls. Assuming one of the lefties makes it, the final decision could come down to Kittredge vs. Pruitt.
Banda, 24, didn't show much since being acquired Feb. 20 from Arizona in the Steven Souza Jr. trade, allowing four hits and five walks to 28 batters over six innings. But Cash said the decision wasn't based on performance but potential as they want Banda to get regular work as a starter at Triple-A Durham, albeit with the potential to join the bullpen later.
"We want to get him stretched out," Cash said. "I expressed to Anthony the way we felt about him when we acquired him has probably grown and gotten better since we got to see him."
Also optioned to Triple A was hard-throwing RHP Ryne Stanek, who pitched in 21 games for the Rays last year in three stints but has been inconsistent this spring.
In reducing their roster to 36 (including DL-bound RHP Jose De Leon), the Rays also reassigned to the minors LHP Kyle Bird, RHP Ian Gibaut, RHP Cody Hall, LHP Adam Kolarek and RHP Colton Murray, plus catchers Xorge Carrillo and Johnny Monell.
Rather than throw 100 pitches Sunday and have a short tune-up in his final spring outing as in past years, RHP Chris Archer decided he wanted to keep building toward his opening day start. So he threw 72 pitches over 51/3 impressive innings, with a plan to target 100 on Friday in his spring finale then get an extra day of rest before the March 29 opener. The idea is to be more prepared for regular-season situations, noting the 108 he threw in last year's opener was a big step up in workload. "I just wanted to avoid that," he said. "I'm giving myself extra rest as opposed to throwing less pitches, kind of give and take." After allowing only two hits and no walks Sunday, Archer said he was particularly pleased with the feedback on throwing his changeup in different counts, working to make it more a part of his arsenal.
Sparked by the intriguing 1-2 combo of LF Denard Span and CF Kevin Kiermaier, then a home run by RF Carlos Gomez, the Rays struck for three in the first and eventually built an 8-0 lead. … Span, 3B Matt Duffy and 2B Daniel Robertson had three hits each as the Rays posted 19 total. … The Rays improved to 10-12-1 with their first home win since Feb. 26 and third total.
Quote of the day
"We had a couple cell phones going around the dugout — with the staff."
CF Kevin Kiermaier, on how he kept up with his beloved Purdue basketball team's second-round NCAA Tournament win.
• OF Mallex Smith said his tight right hamstring is feeling better and he expects to ramp up activity this week and be ready for the March 29 opener. Cash said they hope to see him in a minor-league game Tuesday and that "we're still okay for that (opening day), but we're going to start cutting it close."
• Several Rays are trying out batting helmets with the attached "C flap" face guard. Cash said "it's been talked about" given the high number of pitchers throwing up in the zone, but it's still the player's choice.
• Sunday's announced crowd of 6,912 was the first sellout of the spring in Port Charlotte.