Sucre comes through with bat, behind plate

Smith takes batting practice; McCarthy makes most of opportunity

Sucre comes through with bat, behind plate

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jesus Sucre continued to impress in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Red Sox.

Saturday, Sucre hit a solo home run. Sunday, he had an RBI single, threw out a would-be basestealer and threw out another runner on a bunt attempt. Chris Archer, who started in his spring debut, couldn't say enough good things about his batterymate.

"I like a lot of things Sucre can do," Archer said. "I like him a lot."

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

Archer likened pitching to Sucre to throwing to a "younger, slimmer Jose Molina with the actions, the hands and his ability to throw. It's up there."

"He's worked with one of the best pitchers in the league the past couple of years with [Seattle's] Felix Hernandez, so I like that we're able to communicate already," Archer said.

Archer, Sucre retire two Red Sox

Smith making slow progress

Outfielder Mallex Smith is still not up to full baseball activity due to a slight problem in his left oblique area.

"Just a little something-something," Smith said. "Just precaution. I'll be out there soon enough. I'm definitely eager. All the guys are playing. You want to be out there."

Smith came to the Rays in the trade that sent Drew Smyly to the Mariners, and given his speed, he could bring a different component to the outfield mix. When asked about Smith's progress, Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters, "I think we're going to try and ramp him up a little bit."

"It's an oblique thing he came in with, and we were a little sensitive to it," Cash said. "But at the same time, he looks pretty active shagging batting practice and balls off the bat."

Smith took batting practice in the cage on Sunday.

"Our hope is to build him up pretty quick," Cash said. "We want to get him into some games. We're excited to see him."

McCarthy's two-run home run

Williams, McCarthy get in action

Justin Williams was in the lineup, taking advantage of an opportunity to step up from Minor League camp to participate in the game against the Red Sox. The 21-year-old outfielder came to the Rays in the November 2014 deal that sent Jeremy Hellickson to the D-backs.

A legitimate power threat, Williams hit .295 with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs for Double-A Montgomery, and Class A Advanced Charlotte in 2016. Cash got to see Williams play during the Arizona Fall League this past fall and came away impressed.

"I liked him a lot," Cash said of Williams, who went 0-for-3 Sunday. "Swung the bat really well. Really an easy guy to talk to. It's pretty unique how hard he can hit a ball. He's that guy who can hit a lot of line drives that are like a 2-iron off the bat. The four or five days I was out there, it seemed like he barrelled up everything."

Joe McCarthy also came over from Minor League camp and erupted for an RBI double, a two-run homer and two walks.

"I just went in there with the mentality that I was going to let it go," McCarthy said. "I just went up there taking hacks today."

McCarthy hit .285 with eight home runs and 60 RBIs while playing for Class A Bowling Green and Charlotte in 2016, so he felt right at home at Charlotte Sports Park.

"I played here all last year, so I was comfortable with it," McCarthy said. "I'm just happy to be back to baseball. ... Long offseason working toward this day. It's good to be back."

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