De Leon Struggles In Spring Debut

FORT MYERS (620 WDAE) -- For right-hander Jose De Leon, fastball command eluded him in his spring debut with the Tampa Bay Rays.

The young starter failed to get out of the first inning, and Boston Red Sox hitters continued to pound the Rays bullpen, blowing out Tampa Bay 19-2 Thursday at JetBlue Park.

De Leon allowed a single to lead off the game to Dustin Pedroia, and walked both Brock Holt and Mookie Betts to load the bases.  Hanley Ramirez struck out, but Mitch Moreland's sacrifice fly opened the scoring.

Chris Young then chased the Tampa Bay starter with a single to score both Holt and Betts for a 3-0 deficit.

De Leon admitted afterward that he could not command his fastball, with everything staying down below the zone.

"That's the key to a pitcher, locating the fastball," De Leon said.  "I just couldn't do it today.  I mean, the changeup was good, but it doesn't matter if you don't have the fastball command.

Jackie Bradley Jr. hit two home runs in the game, a two-run blast off Ryan Garton in the first, followed by a three-run shot in the fourth off Ryne Stanek.  Ramirez, Bryce Brentz and minor-leaguer Steve Selsky also went deep for Boston.

Tampa Bay's only runs came in the fifth, on a fielder's choice ground ball by Daniel Robertson that followed three straight soft singles, and an eighth-inning solo homer by minor-leaguer Andrew Velazquez.

The Rays return to Port Charlotte Friday for a matchup against the Detroit Tigers.  Tampa Bay will go with a bullpen day, as Ryan Yarborough will get the start, taking on Matthew Boyd.  First pitch is scheduled for 1:05.

Listen to comments from manager Kevin Cash, pitcher Jose De Leon and outfielder Nick Franklin below

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