Archer makes final tuneup in intrasquad game

After weather prompts change in plans, Rays' ace allows no runs in 4 IP, survives liner

Archer makes final tuneup in intrasquad game

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Despite weather concerns, Chris Archer managed to get in a final tuneup on Tuesday in advance of his Opening Day start against the Blue Jays on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

On a back field at Charlotte Sports Park, Archer pitched against teammates in an intrasquad game. The right-hander allowed no runs on six hits and a walk while striking out three in four innings.

Rays to open season with 4-man rotation

Heading into the day, Archer and a host of teammates had been scheduled to play in a Minor League game against a Twins affiliate at 1 p.m. ET in Fort Myers. However, reports of inclimate weather dictated a change of plans. That placed Archer on a mound in Port Charlotte at 11 a.m., and it brought an early wakeup call from manager Kevin Cash.

"I was actually still asleep when Cash called at 7 a.m.," Archer said. "But he asked me if I would be ready to throw the first pitch at 11, and I said, 'Yeah.'"

Following the protocol established by the Rays, Archer tapered his workload from 100-plus pitches to 63 on Tuesday.

"I'm actually pretty happy about staying here and facing the competition that I faced," Archer said. "I mean I faced our big league hitters, so that was nice."

Archer on Rays' pitching

The only excitement of the outing came when Rene Rivera hit a ball back at Archer in his fourth inning of work. The Rays' ace deflected the ball before it caught him on the right hip. Fortunately for Archer and the Rays, no harm came from the shot.

"I was trying to make a play, even after I got hit, I wanted to get the out because I knew I was on a pitch limit," Archer said. " ... He hit it, like, medium, not a straight missile. Even with how he hit it, it deflected off my glove first, then hit me.

"In my mind I was fine. I wasn't worried. But given the circumstance, five days before the season starts, I think people were a little nervous. But I knew, because I've been hit a lot. It didn't get me square, and it didn't get me in a spot where I had to come out."

Archer to start Opening Day

Archer said he felt "perfectly fine" afterward. He now can look forward to Sunday's start, against a formidable Blue Jays lineup.

"I think everybody at this point is ready for Spring Training to kind of be over," Archer said. "All of us have thrown close to 100 pitches, our hitters, I think, have gotten back on track after Cuba, so I think we're all ready for it to be over."

Archer did not seem concerned that he has not pitched in a Major League game since March 14.

"I don't think so," Archer said. "Because it's still Spring Training, even though there are fans, still, nothing can simulate the season. ... Last year I threw on the back field a couple of times and it had no effect on the season."

Given the Spring Training locations of the Rays' American League East foes -- all on the west coast of Florida, the Rays have tried not to overexpose any of their pitchers to the hitters they will see the most once the season begins.

"I'd much rather have him pitch four innings here than in Dunedin against a team that he's going to be pitching against on Sunday," 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.