Lucas Duda didn’t lose any time acclimating to American League competition this week. Following his trade to the Rays on Thursday, he recorded his first home run with Tampa Bay during his debut on Friday night, taking Masahiro Tanaka deep in the seventh inning for the team’s first and only run of their 7-1 loss. On Saturday, he did it again, crushing a 2-0 pitch from David Robertson into the second deck of Yankee Stadium to tie the game 4-4 in the eighth.
Duda entered Saturday with a modest .247/.347/.541 batting line, 18 home runs and an .888 OPS through 294 PA. He’s made a good-faith effort to return to a starting role after getting sidelined with a lower back stress fracture last year, though he has yet to match the 27-homer, .250-average output of previous seasons. Following his blast off of Robertson, Duda’s 19 home runs rank third-most among Rays’ players, tied with Corey Dickerson and trailing only Logan Morrison (26 HR) and Steven Souza Jr. (21 HR).
Duda went 1-for-1 on Saturday with a home run, two walks and a sac fly. The Rays couldn’t capitalize on his knock in the eighth, however, and remain tied 4-4 with the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.