Rays’ Jose Siri putting in extra work to try to get back into lineup

ST. PETERSBURG — Jose Siri was in and out of the clubhouse early on Friday.

The centerfielder was on the field before most of his Rays teammates, doing defensive drills and taking early batting practice. Then he was back in the cage for more work.

Siri knows he is not in a good spot right now.

With Jonny DeLuca back from the injured list and Siri struggling offensively, Siri has lost playing time. He went into Saturday’s game against the Yankees hitting .170 with 45 strikeouts in 108 plate appearances.

“I feel good when I go to the plate, really,” Siri said through Elvis Martinez, the team’s director of media relations. “I get up to the plate and I feel good, and then a ball I think is going to be a ball is a strike. I am in the cage, I am working on the machine. I am taking balls in the outfield.

“I just feel like maybe it’s some bad fortune. And then it affects my confidence.”

After sitting out Friday, Siri was back in the lineup Saturday against left-hander Nestor Cortes. He went 0-for-3 but drew a walk to start a rally in the third.

With DeLuca and Josh Lowe, the Rays’ starting rightfielder and backup centerfielder, beginning the season on the injured list, Siri played every inning of the first 20 games.

Over the first 10, he felt like he was on track. He batted .250 with a home run and six walks. But over the next 23, he seemed to lose his way, hitting just .129 with 31 strikeouts and two walks in 68 plate appearances.

“Credit to Jose, he’s working, and he’s being pitched a little bit tough, but he’s off,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I think when he’s on the fastball, he’s getting the off-speed pitch, and when he’s on the off-speed pitch he’s getting the fastball.

“That’s a sign of a guy that’s in a little bit of an offensive funk. I’d like to see Jose try to eliminate the thoughts as much as possible and just go compete in the box a little bit.”

Fairbanks is back

Closer Pete Fairbanks pitched a scoreless ninth inning in the Rays’ 7-2 win Saturday, his first day back from the injured list.

The right-hander had been shut down with a “nerve-related” condition that caused a “zing” or tingling in his hand when he tried to throw. He said he has tweaked his pregame routine and his approach on the mound to address the issue.

Fairbanks said he thinks the stomach illness he suffered before the issue aggravated it, because it put pressure on his neck muscles. He said he also was trying to compensate for a lack of velocity early in the season.

“I think the more thought process, right, I was kind of mad that I wasn’t throwing as hard as I normally do on my bullpens earlier in the spring,” he said. “And I think that led to some undesirable mechanical adaptations. So just getting back to feeling like the arm is along for the ride, and we’re just stepping through and letting it be loose and whippy.”

Fairbanks made two rehab appearances in Durham this week, throwing a scoreless inning on Thursday. The 30-year-old right-hander has three saves in four opportunities over eight appearances this season. He has given up eight runs, seven earned, over seven innings, walking eight and striking out 10.


Second baseman Brandon Lowe didn’t “trust” swinging with his healing right oblique Friday night, which is why he was removed from his rehab start after one at-bat. Cash said Lowe will go through workouts Saturday, and the Rays expect to have him back in the Triple-A lineup on Sunday. … Bally Sports Sun’s tribute to late Rays radio voice Dave Wills aired Saturday night. The team is still selling the T-shirts that honor his induction into the Rays Hall of Fame in the Authentics Store at Tropicana Field. Proceeds from the sales go to the Dave Wills Memorial Scholarship Fund, a scholarship for Pinellas County High School students pursuing a career in broadcasting.

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