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Rays add all-star catcher Wilson Ramos to their roster

The Tampa Bay Rays will have a new catcher in their lineup … eventually.

The Rays formally announced the signing of Wilson Ramos, the former catcher of the Washington Nationals. The Rays signed him as a free agent for a two-year contract worth $12.5 million. Ramos can earn another $5.75 million through incentives.

It may take some time for Tampa Bay to see what it has in Ramos. Ramos suffered a ACL in his right knee near the end of last season. It could be June, maybe as long as the all-star game before Ramos returns. He will probably come back first as a DH.

“The pace of my rehab, at the very least, I expect to be available for the team, getting at-bats, DHing, really from the beginning of May,” Ramos said Monday on a conference call — that includes another $5.75 million in incentives — official. “The people doing my therapy (in South Florida) have been really impressed.”

“A healthy Wilson Ramos is one of the best all-around catchers in baseball,” said Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom. “Few players at the position can impact all facets of the game like he can. We’re excited for what Wilson will contribute to both our offense and our pitching staff, and we look forward to getting him back on the field soon.”

Last year, Ramos played in 131 games and hit .307 with 22 homers for the Nationals.

To make room for Ramos on the roster, the team designed former No. 1 draft pick Justin O’Connor for assignment. O’Connor had two back surgeries a year ago.

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Despite finishing 25 games back, Matt Silverman sees bright spots

They finished in last place in the AL East. They lost 94 times. They were the second-worst team in baseball. They hit 216 home runs, but 136 of them were solos.

And still, Tampa Bay Rays general manager Matt Silverman talked about bright spots.

In the Rays’ season-ending news conference Tuesday, Silverman talked about a team he expects to be better in 2017 despite the flaws of this season.

“We’re incredibly disappointed,” Silverman said. “The season went south so early, and we were never able to crawl back into relevance. That feeling, it gnaws at us. It gnaws at Stu (Sternberg). It gnaws at Brian Auld. It gnaws at the players. We don’t want that to happen again.

“It’s a talented club, and there were several bright spots. But in finishing 25 games back, there weren’t enough bright spots.  We’re hellbent on getting this team back in contention. We have several players in-house, but we’re going to need some new players, too.”

In particular, Silverman said, he was disappointed in the base running, the defense, and the bullpen. But he pointed out that his team was in the Top 10 in slugging.

Will there be enough changes? Manager Kevin Cash praised first baseman Brad Miller, and Silverman praised second baseman Logan Forsythe. Cash was looking forward to seeing more  of Matt Duffy, and he praised the season of Evan Longoria. The team said it missed Kevin Kiermaier terribly while he was hurt, and Cash pointed out that both Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr. were important pieces. Silverman said the team would look for catching, but he said there were a couple of young catchers on the team who were possibilities. The team talked about its starting pitchers, although it needs more bullpen.

So can an intact core mean a significant difference for the Rays?

“We know we underperformed. Millions of fans across Tampa Bay are upset. We’re upset. This is not the performance we expect and not the type of club we want to put on the field.

“But there were bright spots. When we make those hard decisions, and we try to figure out which way to go, we have to make sure we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. There are good players on this club. There is a lot of talent to this club.”

Even after last place, Silverman said, there is still confidence. There is still optimism.

Of course, it couldn’t hurt if there were a few guys on base when the team hits a home run.

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Hooray! Rays end the 2106 season by beating Rangers again

It ended just fine. It was all those games that came before the end that were the problem.

The Tampa Bay Rays closed out their season with a 6-4 extra innings win over the Texas Rangers and a two-game winning streak. But the Rays finished with a 68-94 record, good for the second-worst record in the majors league. It was the worst record Tampa Bay has had since 2007.

The Rays, led by manager Kevin Cash, finished ahead of only the Minnesota Twins.

In the 10th inning, Richie Shaffer scored on a wild pitch, and Curt Casali doubled in Alexei Ramirez.

Alex Colome blew his third save of the season, but he was the winning pitcher.

Ramirez had four hits for the Rays, while Logan Forsythe, Shaffer and Casali each had two.

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Rays’ Chris Archer manages to avoid his 20th defeat

No, Chris Archer didn’t have a good season.

Just a good finish.

Archer, the Rays’ pitcher, avoided his 20th loss of the year Thursday night in a 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Archer would have been the first pitcher since 2003 (Detroit’s Mike Mayroth) to lose 20.

Instead of becoming a trivia answer for years (who was the last pitcher to lose 20?), Archer instead will finish 9-19. He pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs. The Rays had a comfortable 5-1 lead until Archer surrended a two-run homer to Carlos Sanchez.

Kevin Kiermaier had three hits for the Rays. Mikie Mahtook, Alexei Ramirez and Curt Casali all had two for Archer, who had lacked hefty support all year. In his 19 losses this season, Archer has allowed only 26 runs.

Archer also passed 200 innings pitched for the second straight year.

Rays’ manager Kevin Cash called Archer’s performance “outstanding.” Since the all-star game, Archer had a record of 5-7.

The Rays had lost nine of their previous 10 games.

Alex Colome made his 36th save.

The Rays now conclude their season with three games against the Rangers. Matt Andriese pitches for Tampa Bay tonight against Yu Darvish.

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Rays’ Chris Archer loses franchise-tying 18th game of the season

There wasn’t anything particularly new to the way Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays lost his 18th game of the year Saturday afternoon.

He didn’t give up a lot of hits. Only four.

He didn’t give up a lot of runs. Only three in seven innings.

He did give up home run balls. Two of them.

In the end, Archer still was the losing pitcher in a 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees Saturday. It was Archer’s franchise-tying 18th defeat (tying Tanyon Sturtz).

The game was tied in the sixth inning when Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run homer and Gary Sanchez hit a solo homer.

For the Rays, Bobby Wilson homered in the eighth. New York padded its lead with two in the bottom of the eighth.

Masahiro Tanaka got the win for the Yankees to improve his record to 13-4.

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Rays let go of longtime hitting coach Derek Shelton

For the first six seasons of Derek Shelton’s career with the Tampa Bay Rays, it wasn’t his fault.

This year, evidently, it was.

The Rays fired Shelton, a longtime target of fans’ displeasure, Tuesday and replaced him with minor-league instructor Chad Mattola.

Tampa Bay has long struggled offensively, but some observers thought that was because hitting talent is more expensive, and therefore more difficult to obtain on a budget such as the Rays. Tampa Bay also has struggled to develop its own hitters in the minors.

Shelton worked for the Rays for seven seasons. His worst-hitting team was 2012, when it hit only .240. It hit .257 a year later.

Rays general manager Matt Silverman said the franchise wanted a new voice. Shelton was originally hired by Joe Maddon and was inherited by current manager Kevin Cash.

“We are grateful for all that Derek has given to the Rays for the past seven seasons. He brought great energy to our clubhouse and his work ethic with our hitters was outstanding,” said Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman in a statement. “We decided it was time for a new voice. Chad has worked with players throughout the organization for several years now, and we are excited for the perspectives and experiences he will bring to this role.”

One change could have been that this year’s batting order swung more freely and hit more home runs.

Mottola, who turns 45 next month, becomes the seventh hitting coach in Rays history following Shelton (2010-16), Steve Henderson (1998, 2006-09), Lee Elia (2003-05), Milt May (2002), Wade Boggs (2001) and Leon Roberts (1999-2000).

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Rays’ Alex Cobb finally makes return to major league baseball

For 716 days, he was an outsider. For almost two years, he was a spectator.

Friday night, Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays was a big-league pitcher again.

Cobb, recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw five effective innings in Friday night’s 8-3 victory over Toronto. Cobb allowed only four hits and two runs in his five innings and struck out the side in the fifth. He retired his last 10 batters.

“Well, I’m happy,” Cobb said. “It started off a little bit shaky, but I feel like that play [in the 1st] that Logan Forsythe made with the shift over to the right a little bit, made a throw across his body and got (Troy Tulowitzki) by a decent amount really settled me down. I remembered I’m working with a big league defense also, and realized I could pitch to contact also so I started being a little more aggressive. I think the game took a turn from that point.

“I was happy in the fact that I felt back to that competitive nature on the mound. I wasn’t being cautious, wasn’t thinking about mechanics, wasn’t thinking about injury possibilities. I was just out there and wanted to get outs. I felt the groove of the game again. I felt quick innings, get off the field, give your guys a chance to handle the sticks a bit and get your team back in the lead.”

The Rays opend the game up with four runs in the eighth inning. Knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa made his major league debut for Tampa Bay.

Blake Snell pitches for the Rays today.

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Rays lose another to Red Sox despite good start, rally

The good start is but a memory. The comeback is just a detail.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, the loss is just the latest one.

The Rays dropped an 8-6 decision to the Boston Red Sox Thursday, allowing two runs in the bottom of the eighth to snap a 6-6 tie. The Rays are 20 games under .500 at 56-76 as they return home to face the Blue Jays.

Tampa Bay took a 4-1 lead behind a two-run homer by Logan Forsythe and a solo shot by Logan Morrison, but they couldn’t hold it. Henley Ramirez hit a grand slam in the fifth to give Boston its first lead.

But the Rays came back from being behind 6-4 when Forsythe singled to center.

However, in the bottom of the eighth, Erasmo Ramirez gave up three hits, including a run-scoring single by Aaron Hill and a run-scoring double by Jackie Bradley Jr. for the win.

Forsythe had four RBIs and Kevin Kiermaier had three hits for the Rays.

Ramirez fell to 7-10 with the loss.

For the Rays, Alex Cobb makes his season debut Friday at the Trop against Toronto after returning from injury.

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Boston shows Tampa Bay why it still matters in AL East

Some nights, it isn’t hard to see the difference between the haves and the have-nots.

Yeah, that’s the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, for you who struggle with metaphors.

The Red Sox started pitcher Rick Porcello, who now leads the American League with 18 wins. He allowed only three runs in a 9-4 victory.

The Rays started pitcher Matt Andriese, who lost his sixth decision in his winless 13-game streak. He lasted only four innings and gave up 10 hits and seven runs.

The Red Sox got a home run and a double out of Mookie Betts. He became the third hitter (with Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro) to have 30 home runs in a season before he reached the age of 24.

The Rays didn’t have a home run. Their record when they don’t hit one fell to 8-28. They are now 55-75 on the season.

Brock Holt and Travis Shaw each had three hits for Boston. Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon each had two.

For the Rays, Logan Forsythe, Nick Franklin, Corey Dickerson and Bobby Wilson had two.

The teams play again tonight when Jake Odorizzi pitches against Drew Pomeranz.

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Chris Archer dominant as Tampa Bay clobbers Houston Astros

How good was Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon?

He was good enough, for instance, that he left George Springer of the Houston Astros grumbling on Tampa Bay’s 10-4 victory.

On Archer’s final batter of the day, he struck out Springer after Springer had fouled off five pitches. Springer objected to Archer’s celebration, suggesting that Archer act as if he had struck out someone before, although Archer leads the American League in strikeouts (and losses).

“I think we both got caught up in the heat of the moment,” Archer said. “No hard feelings, no love lost. He’s a really good hitter. I know I was down to my last batter. He had a great at-bat. I was fortunate enough to win that battle.

“We’ve squashed it. We’ve already communicated. I was a little surprised. It was 3-2 he fouled off several pitches. At the same time, we’re both mature.”

Rays’ manager Kevin Cash shrugged off the incident.

“There are a lot of players who react to a lot of things.” Cash said. “It’s become a part of our game.”

Archer could have tied the record of Tanyon Sturtz loss record of 18 for one season with a loss. Instead, he improved to 8-17. He was sharp in the game, raising his record to 8-17. He is 4-6 since the all-star break.

“I pitched much closer to my ability today,” Archer said.

Archer allowed three earned runs on only four hits. Most of the damage came on a two-run homer by Jose Altuve.

The Rays had 15 hits, including three by Evan Longoria and Nick Franklin. The Astros cut the Rays lead to 4-3, but Tampa Bay scored five runs in the eighth on a two-run homer by Matt Duffy and a three-run shot by Corey Dickerson.

Tampa Bay now travels to Boston, where Matt Andriese pitches and Rick Porcello (who is 17-3).

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