Hellickson discusses positive start vs. the Yankees

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Prior to Friday, Joe Maddon had enjoyed what he had seen from Jeremy Hellickson. The Rays skipper just wanted to see more of it.

In 14 of Hellickson's 31 starts last season, the right-hander lasted fewer than six innings. In all but three of those outings, he threw 90 or more pitches.

Throughout Spring Training, Maddon has preached efficiency to the No. 2 starter on his staff. He had appeared to be turning a corner before laboring through his three innings on Friday, when Hellickson allowed eight runs on seven hits and two walks. He threw 72 pitches and struck out three.

Maddon enjoyed Hellickson's two outings prior to Friday, as the 25-year-old limited the Tigers to three runs on six innings on March 19 and completed seven frames against the Yankees last Sunday.

"I felt great the last two outings," Hellickson said after his Friday outing. "My command was right where I wanted it to be, and that's why it's pretty frustrating today. I thought I was right where I wanted to be. It's just one of those days, but it's pretty frustrating."

In six Grapefruit League outings, Hellickson, the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year, has compiled a 6.75 ERA, yielding 17 runs on 33 hits in 22 2/3 innings.

"The stuff out of his hand is really good," Maddon said before Friday's game. "Overall, it's commanding the fastball, to see if we can pick that up a little bit better."

It's a simple message, and one Maddon has delivered to all of his starting pitchers. The longer the starters last, the easier the burden on the bullpen.

"The thing I talked about is pitching to contact," Maddon said. "Probably the only exception would be when they get to two strikes and need a strikeout. I would just like to see our guys follow that and if we can get all of the starters doing that, then it would place less stress on the bullpen.

Scott leaves Minor League game Friday

TB@DET: Scott puts the Rays on top with a grand slam

ST. PETERSBURG -- Luke Scott had been optimistic about his chances of being in the Rays' Opening Day lineup. Those chances took a hit on Friday.

Scott was removed from a Triple-A contest in Port Charlotte, Fla., after one at-bat due to tightness in his right calf. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI Friday afternoon.

Scott said Friday morning that everything went well running the bases at Tropicana Field on Thursday, though he estimated he only ran at 80 percent on his tight right calf. He made the trip to Port Charlotte on Friday to take between four and eight at-bats split between two games, one with the Rays' Double-A club and the other with Triple-A.

Scott didn't know the plan past Friday, whether it involved more Minor League games or perhaps an appearance in Tampa Bay's game against Detroit at Tropicana Field, which appears unlikely at this point.

It would make more sense for the Rays to keep Scott out of any Major League games so, if he's not ready for Opening Day, they could backdate his disabled-list stint to March 22 and bring him back the first weekend of the regular season.

"We've built this whole thing in the offseason to look a certain way," said manager Joe Maddon. "So, you rely on different guys to be in different spots and then right out of the chute you have to do something differently. But I think we're covered."

Worth noting

• Tickets are available for the Rays' final spring exhibition against the Tigers on Saturday at Tropicana Field. All tickets are $15, available online or at the gate, and there will be open, general-admission seating in the lower deck only. Gates open at 11:40 a.m.