SARASOTA - Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella was in a bit of a sour mood after Wednesday's 6-1 exhibition loss to the Reds at Ed Smith Stadium.
Today, there's a good chance a few of his players - actually, maybe 20 or so - won't be in the best spirits, either.
Piniella said he expects to make cuts today, reducing the roster from 60 to somewhere in the low 40s.
"We're going to get the roster down and start playing our regular lineup more," Piniella said. "And then we'll be backing up these guys with our bench, primarily, and guys who have a chance to make the team."
The plan was to make cuts Friday, and that still could be the plan. Piniella, though, seemed fairly certain the cuts would come today. The Rays leave for Japan on March 25, and Piniella wants to get his regulars as much playing time as he can.
Plus, other than assembling a pitching staff, there are not many roster slots open.
"We have a pretty good idea of what we're going to do," Piniella said.
WHERE ARE THE BATS? The Rays offense has disappeared. After scoring 18 on 28 hits in their first two spring games, they have scored five on 19 hits in the past three. No wonder the Rays won their first two and now have dropped three straight.
"We got to start swinging the bats better," Piniella said. "We played against Cincinnati on Monday, if they hadn't bobbled a ball at second base, they would've shut us out. (Tuesday) we got one run because (the Pirates) had a wild pitch and (Wednesday) we hit a solo home run. We got to swing the bats better than that."
Catcher Toby Hall supplied the run with a homer in the sixth. By that point, the Rays already were trailing 6-0.
NO WORRIES: Starting pitcher Victor Zambrano had a rough outing, giving up four runs and seven hits in 22/3 innings, but he wasn't alarmed.
"I was happy," Zambrano said. "To be honest, I was working on some (pitches)."
Zambrano said he was working on his four-seam fastball and "was just throwing my pitches and getting work (done)."
Piniella said he wasn't worried about Zambrano, but added, "He really wasn't sharp. I've seen him much better."
COMING IN THIRD: Pitcher Mark Hendrickson, out the past few days with soreness on his left side, threw off the mound and felt fine. He is expected to start Friday, and Piniella said he sees Hendrickson as the No.3 starter in the rotation.
"He will break up (the) right-handers," said Piniella, who likely will have at least three and maybe four righties in the rotation. "He has got the stuff to do it."
The key now is for Hendrickson to stay healthy and pitch innings.
"We got to get him going," Piniella said. "He has fallen behind a little bit."
The good thing, Piniella said, is the Rays likely won't need their third starter until April 9.
MAKING THE TRIP: The Yankees are considering leaving their third, fourth and fifth starting pitchers at home for the two games in Japan against the Rays. Piniella, though, said he likely will take all his pitchers on the trip and use his third and fourth starters to pitch in the exhibition games against Japanese teams.
"If they stayed, they would have to go out to the minor-league camp," Piniella said. "We might as well pitch them against the good Japanese competition."
MISCELLANY: The Rays have scheduled an exhibition game for after the team returns from Japan. The Rays will play Durham, their Triple-A affiliate, on April 4 at Tropicana Field, but the game will not be open to the public. ... Jeremi Gonzalez starts today against the Phillies. Also scheduled to pitch are Ken Cloude, Jesus Colome, Alan Mills, Mike Holtz and Danys Baez. ... The first 1,000 fans to today's game will receive a commemorative baseball from the movie The Rookie.