Leather report: Clouds clear over Rays 'D'

Early-spring error issues have moved off radar

Leather report: Clouds clear over Rays 'D'

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay formula for success has been pitching and defense. While pitching hasn't been a problem this spring, defense was at the start.

But it hasn't been lately.

Rays Spring Training info

The Rays defense had committed just three errors in its previous five games entering Saturday's game against the Pirates. All three of those came in Wednesday's win over the Twins with a team that was using primarily Minor Leaguers because of a return trip from Cuba the night before.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said it was just a matter of time before things worked themselves out.

"Everybody made some early errors," Cash said. "But we're not going to fret over Evan Longoria making an error here or there or Beck [Tim Beckham] or Logan [Morrison] or any of them. Evan and Logan are so solid for us that a couple Spring Training games are not going to change our opinion."

Perhaps making the greatest improvement is shortstop Brad Miller. Through March 9, Miller had already committed three errors. That prompted Miller to take extra time to field ground balls with an added emphasis of completing throws to first base.

"He made some adjustments, and he's done a really nice job of staying consistent with that," Cash said. "I think the extra work he's put in with [bench coach] Tom Foley has really paid off. It was just cleaning up some fundamental stuff, nothing major."

The corner outfielders also haven't been afraid to flash solid defense. In Friday's game against the Twins, right fielder Steven Souza Jr. threw a strike to shortstop Jake Hager, nabbing Eddie Rosario as he tried, unsuccessfully, to turn a single into a double.

"He took his own initiative to say, 'I've got a strong arm,' and he's done that," Cash said of Souza. "Every throw has been right on the money, and with the good throws, [he's] been able to hold up some guys going to second base."

Extra Bases

On top of the normal Grapefruit League game against the Blue Jays on Sunday, the Rays will hold an intrasquad game, to ensure that no position players get more than two days off consecutively (Tampa Bay is off Monday).

Most notably, starter Matt Moore will participate in the intrasquad game, which will feature other Major Leaguers. Cash said some of those Major Leaguers will play with, and some will play against, Moore.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.