LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) – Luke Scott didn’t have the breakout season he was looking for last year when he joined the Tampa Bay Rays.
He hit only .229 with 14 homers – not what anyone was looking for in Tampa Bay’s floundering offense. He was back on the free agent market at the end of the season, but he decided to take Tampa Bay’s best offer and give it one more shot with the Rays.
Scott hit a grand slam off Tigers starter Doug Fister to lead the Rays to an 11-5 win on Tuesday, raising his spring batting average to .375. The Rays are looking for offense anywhere they can find it and any production from Scott is a big deal.
“I feel so good this spring,” Scott said. “I am seeing pitches better and I am taking the time to see some good pitches. I am doing everything better with my mechanics and I feel like it’s all coming together.”
Scott batted cleanup and even got some time in right field. He’s been battling nagging injuries all spring but played four innings in right, his first time on the field this spring. He said he feels fine and wants to see more playing time in the field.
“I just need to be patient at bat and in the field,” Scott said. “I feel good and now I am finally able to turn on the ball the way I should. I can drive the ball better. I have to make adjustments, but I feel great.”
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson got roughed up a bit, allowing three earned runs in six innings in his second official start of the spring.
Tigers starter Doug Fister saw his earned run average rise to 7.36 after allowing seven runs – two earned – in 3 2-3 innings. He also walked three and allowed the grand slam to Scott.
Fister, who went 10-10 with a 3.45 earned run average for the Tigers last year, said he isn’t too concerned with at least two spring starts remaining.
`My control isn’t there yet,” Fister said. “I need to regain some consistency. I am troubleshooting it. I know I can work it all out. I am not happy with the way things have been going, but I just have to learn from every outing like this one.”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said that Fister wasn’t a concern yet, but that some adjustments need to be made.
“His delivery and his release point has been all out of whack,” Leyland said. “For some reason he’s been a little bit off. He’ll get it fixed.”
Shelly Duncan also homered for Tampa Bay in the win and Chris Gimenez raised his spring batting average to .382 with a pair of hits and Desmond Jennings had a hit to lift his average to .344.
Devon Travis homered for the Tigers, and Austin Jackson and Jhonny Peralta each had two hits. Torii Hunter had two hits and a triple.
Tigers left fielder Andy Dirks suffered a contusion to his right knee after running into the outfield wall chasing double by Tampa Bay’s Jack Cust.
Dirks said he is day-to-day. His competition for the starting left field position, Quintin Berry is also day-to-day with patellar tendonitis in his left knee. Leyland said he’s not going to panic over the injury to Dirks. Brennan Boesch was also in the mix for the left fielder job, but he was released last week and signed with the New York Yankees.
“Dirks isn’t a concern, but I learned a long time ago to never take anything lightly,” Leyland said. “I am not going to concern myself but I just don’t know right now. It’s day to day.”
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