PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Colby Rasmus figures his swing is just about ready for opening day.
Rasmus hit a grand slam that capped a six-run rally in the eighth inning off Kirby Yates and the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 Wednesday.
“I’m getting a good feel for what I’m trying to do,” Rasmus said. “Baseball is crazy like that. You can out there one day and just be locked in.”
“Spring training is long this year. If you are playing every day, that’s a lot of ABs. If you take that many at-bats, spring training can almost mess you up sometimes. I just try to stay focused on keeping myself relaxed.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has been waiting for Rasmus to show off his prodigious power all spring.
“He’s got some pop, doesn’t he?” Gibbons said. “Colby is a talented kid and he hits homers, man. Homers win.”
Jeff Niemann, still uncertain whether he will be in Tampa Bay’s rotation to open the season, made a final statement in his favour, pitching six scoreless innings of two-hit, no-walk ball. Niemann struck out three and improved his spring ERA to 2.92.
“He was very good,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “The ball was moving a lot. I mean you could see it from their swings and see from the sidelines.”
Niemann, coming off a lacklustre outing, feels ready to start the season in whatever role the Rays have for him.
“That was the best I’ve thrown the ball all spring,” Niemann said. “It’s been a huge building process this whole spring and I can’t be happier about how (I) ended up.”
Yunel Escobar hit an RBI triple for Tampa Bay.
Toronto starter J.A. Happ, who appears likely to have earned the fifth spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation with Tuesday’s demotion of Ricky Romero, gave up one earned run, four hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings.
Hours later, the Blue Jays said they had reached agreement with Happ on a $9.1 million, two-year contract that adds an additional $5.4 million and one season to the deal he got in January.
NOTES: Pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Brett Cecil were both informed they have made the Blue Jays’ 25-man roster. … The Cubs claimed RHP Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from Toronto.