The Rays sent youngster Jeremy Hellickson to the mound to face the New York Yankees and not-so-young Bartolo Colon Monday night. The Rays coaching staff was looking for a solid outing from Hellickson, who had been beset by a hamstring injury and a blister so far this spring, limiting him to a mere 2 2/3 innings.
Hellickson looked solid pitching 4 shutout innings with 2 strikeouts and a walk while scattering 3 hits. He finished his night by throwing a few more pitches in the Bullpen to continue to stretch out his arm. If things continue to progress for Hellickson then he should be ready to step into the Rays rotation to replace Matt Garza, who was traded to the Cubs this off-season.
But Hellickson’s counterpart was also sharp on the evening. Bartolo Colon pitched 6 innings striking out 5 and walking none, the lone run allowed coming on a solo shot by Kelly Shoppach in the 6th inning. Colon is among the pitchers vying for a spot at the back of the Yankees rotation this season.
The Rays would add a run in the 7th inning off of a Dan Johnson homer and would string a couple of hits together in the 8th when Jose Lobaton drove in Sean Rodriguez with an RBI single.
After Hellickson’s departure the Rays bullpen, full of new faces this season, pitched very well. Kyle Farnsworth had a scare in the fifth inning while fielding a bunt attempt from Ramiro Pena he seemed to stumble and hurt his knee. However, after a few minutes standing on the infield grass with the training staff and Joe Maddon looking on he would go on to finish the inning and appeared to be okay.
Juan Cruz pitched 2 innings (allowing the Yankees only run of the game) followed by Joel Peralta. Chris Bootcheck closed out the game by striking out two Yankees hitters ending the game at 3-1. The Rays improve to 10-12 this spring. They head next to Fort Myers to take on the Boston Redsox tomorrow at 7:05.