Forsythe gets leadoff nod as lineup takes shape

Forsythe gets leadoff nod as lineup takes shape

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Logan Forsythe will begin the season as the Rays' leadoff man.

That affirmation came from Kevin Cash prior to the Rays' 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, when the Rays manager discussed the batting order and told reporters: "Logan will hit leadoff, yeah."

"We tried a couple of different guys out," Cash explained. "It was tough, because Logan had so much success hitting in the five hole, then fourth, against some lefties. But we like the way Logan has approached it. And I guess the biggest reason is, it allows one of our best hitters to get 75 more at-bats during the year. So we want him up as much as possible. And this is the best way to do it."

Sunday's batting order against the Blue Jays was as follows: Forsythe, second base; Logan Morrison, first base; Evan Longoria, third base; Corey Dickerson, DH; Desmond Jennings, left field; Brad Miller, shortstop; Steven Souza Jr., right field; Kevin Kiermaier, center field; and Curt Casali, catcher.

Cash noted that the regular-season lineup will be "similar" to the order used on Sunday.

"We're not ready to commit," Cash said. "But there's a lot of spots in there that will be occupied by the guys we see in there today."

Cash allowed that one of the facets of Sunday's lineup he liked was the alternating of right-handed and left-handed hitters.

"You can get in a situation where you're making an opposing team or bullpen throw three pitchers in one inning, potentially, if they are really concerned about that," Cash said. "And then it gives us the ability to pinch hit. Use kind of our leverage with our pinch-hitters at the right time.

"If you single out that lefty, sometimes they can plan for that. The opposing team can plan for that. But we're trying to kind of nullify their ability to bring the pitcher in. We want to be able to bring the hitter in when they can't bring the pitcher in."

As for Kiermaier hitting toward the bottom of the order...

"The thing with K.K. we like is the guys hitting in front of him are pretty fast," Cash said. "We know he can create havoc, and so can the other guys. We have more thump this year at the top. And we've got some speed at the back end of the lineup."

Worth noting

• Rather than pitch against the Blue Jays on Sunday, Matt Moore pitched against a collection of Rays hitters during an intrasquad game.

Moore, who is earmarked to be the team's No. 4 starter, allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out eight.

Moore faced Brandon Guyer, Tim Beckham, Mikie Mahtook, Steve Pearce, James Loney, Rene Rivera, Taylor Motter and Jaff Decker.

Moore on intrasquad game

Alex Colome pitched a scoreless inning Sunday, striking out one. The right-hander appears to be the best bet to close games for the Rays until incumbent closer Brad Boxberger returns. Cash noted that the biggest thing Colome did last year that helped him find success out of the bullpen was follow the advice of Jim Hickey and Stan Boroski, the pitching coach and bullpen coach, respectively, to get "into atack mode."

"Let's get into attack mode and get as many outs as possible as quick as you can, because we want you to be able to pitch the next day for us," Cash said. "And he bought into it.

"... He continues too tinker with that fourth pitch. And that's good. You always want the guy to continue getting better as a pitcher. But his two dominant pitches, the fastball and the cutter/slider, they're big-time weapons to have at the back end of the 'pen."

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