Cash taking time before setting Rays' batting order

Cash taking time before setting Rays' batting order

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Rays have a lot of new faces on this year's team, particularly on offense. Given that fact, manager Kevin Cash was asked prior to Monday's 3-2 win over the Red Sox when he plans to finalize his batting order.

"Probably a week out from the season," Cash said. "We're taking the time to learn about some guys right now. While we're learning, we'll have some conversations with people and find out if there are specific comforts. We can't appease everybody putting them where they want, but we can get a pretty good sense of where they have some comfort in their lineup."

In deference to last year, when Cash "tried to solidify some things to provide some consistency" with the batting order, he believes this season "that's going to be a little tough to do."

"We'll see how it shakes out," Cash said. "But we've got some guys who we're very confident are going to hit. So it will be a little tricky to navigate through the actual batting order."

According to Cash, the ultimate goal of creating a batting order is to put "as much pressure as possible on the opposing pitcher and the other team, even from the bullpen standpoint."

"I know from managing against [certain] teams last year, the guys that went right, left, right, left ... that's difficult," Cash said. "Any time you get those heavy innings, you can run through three arms right there. And it can get a little difficult.

"Personally, I think we really like to balance it out to where we can get some versatility and make some tough decisions on the opposing team."

Worth noting
• The PGA Tour is visiting the Tampa Bay area this week for the Valspar Championship, which will be played at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor. Monday was the Pro-Celebrity-Am, which afforded Rays players Danny Farquhar, Dana Eveland, and Rene Rivera the opportunity to participate.

Steve Pearce started for the Rays in left field on Monday, once again demonstrating his versatility.

Cash noted that he did not know a lot about Pearce as an outfielder, "other than that he's shown an eagerness to get out there and play."

"He'll have some opportunities throughout the year to play out there also," Cash said. "If he's good with it, that could really help us with the lineup and the everyday lineups of revolving that and getting guys into the game."

Steven Souza Jr. did not accompany the team to Fort Myers on Monday, but he did take batting practice in Port Charlotte. Cash said Souza will be with the team on Tuesday when they play the Tigers in Lakeland. Souza will take batting practice, but he will not play.

Souza is expected to begin playing in games by Thursday or Friday. He has been slowed by a left intercostal injury.

Taylor Guerrieri entered Monday's game when Matt Moore left after his allotted two innings. The highly regarded prospect, ranked No. 6 by MLBPipeline.com, impressed Cash while pitching to the heart of the Red Sox's order. Guerrieri struck out a pair, including Boston No. 5 hitter Hanley Ramirez, while allowing one run over two innings.

"The stuff he's featuring obviously plays very well," Cash said.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.