Cash happy with results from early camp drills

Cobb tosses live batting practice as fielders hone popup skills

Cash happy with results from early camp drills

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Alex Cobb threw live batting practice on Monday, and the right-hander told reporters, "It was a good day."

"There weren't too many hitters, I had a lot of injured guys in my group who were kind of just tracking," Cobb said. "I had Brad Miller, who was swinging, and he swung often, thankfully [which allowed Cobb to see how a hitter reacted to his pitches]. But it was good.

"[Throwing live batting practice is] the next step to games. You go from flat-ground work in mid-January, progress up to the bullpens, and live BP. The games. Just another step in that direction. I was happy to get that under my belt."

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Evan Longoria did not show on Monday. Rays manager Kevin Cash explained.

"He just texted me this morning that he was sick," Cash said. "Didn't sleep worth a flip last night. And was still sweating."

Cash planned on calling him later Monday afternoon.

Cash called Monday's popup drill "pretty clean."

"I've seen a lot of popup drills that first or second day of spring look like a circus," Cash said. "And I thought the guys did really well.

"The field I was on, [Tim Beckham] really took charge and was everywhere and very loud. And when he could catch it, he caught it. The shortstop is obviously the key in the infield, and [Kevin Kiermaier] the man in the outfield."

One of the themes for the Rays this spring is cleaning up some of the baserunning mistakes of last year.

"We played in a lot of close ballgames [last season]," Cash said. "We weren't playing that well. Guys were kind of putting it on themselves to make something happen at times. I got caught doing that a couple of times, you know, running a guy that shouldn't have been running. Or not running a guy who should have been. I've got to do a better job of finding that balance.

"We like the offense we have. And we want to allow that offense to play and not run out of innings, run ourselves out of innings."

Cash, a former Major League catcher, allowed that he feels for the catchers during the early days of Spring Training.

"Look, you come in so energized, and you know they put the work in, but there's no way to prepare to catch three bullpens, two live BPs," Cash said. "It's taxing."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.