Expect to see a whole lot more hitting from the Rays this March. Or, at least more at-bats.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he will increase the amount of at-bats for Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria and others by at least 10 and as many as 20.
This is part of Maddon's effort to get the team off to a good start in the regular season.
"It is," Maddon said, "and (hitting coach Derek Shelton has) done a nice job of researching their best years and how many ABs they had in spring training during those years, and it's reflective of a good number of at-bats for some of these guys. Maybe a little bit more than they've had recently."
Maddon generally schedules the hitters to receive 50 to 60 at-bats each spring.
"It seems like the magic number is between 60 and 70 if there is a range, and then maybe one or two guys 70-plus," Maddon said. "If we can do that we'd like to do that."
LHP Alex Torres, acquired from the Angels organization in the Scott Kazmir trade, caught Maddon's eye while throwing a bullpen session Saturday. The 5-foot-10 fireballer was throwing gas, Maddon said.
"He's really interesting. Don't let (his height) fool you," Maddon said. "He's got a big arm, and he's got good stuff. I mean, when you see that kind of stuff just in a workout, my goodness, wait until a hitter gets in there. He's very interesting."
Torres pitched in Single A and Double A last season, going a combined 13-6 with a 2.77 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 156 innings.
Odds and Ends
RHP James Shields and his Labrador retriever, Marley, will be featured in an upcoming issue of "The New Barker," Florida's top dog magazine. Shields and Marley posed for photos Saturday between raindrops. ... Maddon said he will pair Bartlett with 2B Ben Zobrist and INF Sean Rodriguez with INF Reid Brignac as often as possible during the exhibition games. ... Maddon said INF Willy Aybar won't play in a game until a week after his sore wrist allows him to participate in drills. ... The Rays will play an intrasquad game Tuesday at 10 a.m. Expect to see a lot of hitters working on their bunting. ... Matt Garza, Jeff Neimann, Wade Davis, Andy Sonnanstine, David Price and Shields are scheduled to pitch live batting practice today. The Rays will also work on cutoffs, relays, pick-offs and rundowns ... Heavy rain curtailed Saturday's workout and forced the cancellation of the Ice Cream Social, scheduled to take place after the Rays hit on the stadium field. A makeup date has not been set. ... The Rays will have a team-bonding fish fry tonight.