Bauers’ spring play making Rays’ decision harder

by Gary Shelton on March 19, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Jake Bauers rounds the bases after hitting a 2-run home run in the 4th/ANDREW J. KRAMER

Jake Bauers rounds the bases after hitting a 2-run home run in the 4th./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Sunday, 4 a.m.

With every swing of the bat, Jake Bauers seems to be changing minds.

Bauers, the team's No. 4 prospect, hit another home run Saturday to continue a nice spring. At this point, Bauers has a shot at making the club. If not, he could be an early-season callup.

Bauers has hit two home runs in two days, and he's hitting .423 overall. For the spring, Bauers has four home runs.

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Nick Franklin advances to thrid base on a passed ball in the 4th./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Nick Franklin advances to thrid base on a passed ball in the 4th./ANDREW J. KRAMER

"I kind of made it a point this spring, just to kind of take all the chips off my shoulder -- just take all of the pressure off myself and just try to have fun," Bauers said. "It's a great feeling when you do that, and you know it all translates."

Whitley threw four scoreless innings./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Whitley threw four scoreless innings./ANDREW J. KRAMER

The question for the Rays may be if they can find enough at-bats for Bauers to see the field.

The Rays beat Toronto 3-2 Saturday and improved their spring record to 10-9. Chase Whitley, who is competing for the No. 5 position the rotation. Whitley threw four scoreless innings for the Rays.

Whitley allowed singles to Troy Tulowitzki in the first and Kevin Pillar in the fourth. The right-hander also struck out four and walked one, getting a needed bounceback outing after yielding three runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief against Minnesota on Monday.

"It was good to get out there and to compete," Whitley said. "Any time you're going against the Blue Jays, regardless of who's in the lineup, it's always gonna be some pretty good guys, and that was fun out there."

Whitley could open the season in the Rays' bullpen.

"I think, right now, we're still kind of deciding between both [roles]," Cash said. "I mean, the starter [or] reliever, he's shown the ability to do both. If you ask him, he's comfortable to do both. The way he mixes pitches, it allows him to have success doing both. He's not committed to one pitch. He seems to mix probably as well as anyone we have with the changeup, breaking ball and the fastball."

Wherever he goes, Whitley believes he will be ready.

"I think I've proved over the course of when I'm on the mound, I'll compete in whatever role that is," he said.

Daniel Robertson throws out Mike Ohlman in the 6th./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Daniel Robertson throws out Mike Ohlman in the 6th./ANDREW J. KRAMER

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