PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Luke Scott made their first Grapefruit League appearances in Sunday's 4-3 win over the Pirates.
Longoria, returning from a bruised right hand after he was hit by a pitch, went 0-for-1 with a walk and an RBI on a sacrifice fly. He reported that his hand felt good and the bat felt normal in his hands, although he was still struggling to get his timing back and was "a little rough" in the field. He was charged with a throwing error after badly missing first baseman Carlos Pena.
"Obviously I've got some adjustments to make. Today was kind of a struggle with myself," Longoria said. "The thing about playing Spring Training games is adjusting to the speed of the game again. Errors, obviously those are going to happen. But the adjustment to playing in a Major League game again and feeling that speed is what's needed. Those adjustments will be made. It's the first game, so I got my feet wet."
Scott, playing in his first game in nine months after right-shoulder surgery in July, said before the game he hoped to make solid contact, and that a ground ball with backspin to the middle infield would be "freaking good news." He didn't get that, flying out to left in his first at-bat and striking out in his second, but he said after the game he felt good aside from his timing being off.
Scott was especially encouraged by the fact that he swung through and missed, but his shoulder didn't move, noting that his natural instinct right now is still to protect his injured shoulder. Scott said he will overcome that tendency in time, though it's impossible to say how long that will take.
"It's kind of like trying to hold back the tide. You can't do it," he said. "You can't predict when you're going to be locked in. I've had years where, the second at-bat of the spring, I was locked in and ready to go. I've had some Spring Trainings where I never got locked in, not even one at-bat. We'll see how it goes."
Niemann sharp in outing against Pirates
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jeff Niemann couldn't have looked much sharper in his second Spring Training start on Sunday. The big right-hander threw three perfect innings, struck out two and only needed 27 pitches to sit down the Pirates' lineup in order.
Niemann worked so efficiently that he actually went to the bullpen after his designated three innings -- there was some talk about letting him start the fourth -- and threw 18 more pitches to bring his total up to 45.
"I feel like we're just refining. We're not searching and trying to find a new pitch. Everything's pretty much there," Niemann said. "We're really just trying to make things that much better."
Niemann, who has been in the starting rotation each of the last three seasons, is battling with Matt Moore and Wade Davis for the final two spots in the Rays' loaded rotation, and he hasn't done anything to take himself out of the running. He said he felt smooth on the mound, and he got an aggressive Pirates lineup to put a lot of balls in play early in the count, keeping his pitch count down.
"He went about his business right," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He was confident. That was my takeaway. If Jeff does that, he will beat anybody on any day. He'll beat the best teams when he's like that and he gets on a roll. ... I think it's definitely something for him to build off of."
Brignac back in lineup after son's birth
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Shortstop Reid Brignac was back in the Rays' clubhouse and in the lineup Sunday after leaving for Gainesville, Fla., to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their first son, Reid Michael, on Friday.
"It was an unbelievable experience," Brignac said. "He's healthy. He's great. His mom is healthy and great. I couldn't be happier right now."
Brignac said he didn't get any sleep Friday as he stayed up all night with his girlfriend, but he returned to Port Charlotte around 9 p.m. on Saturday night so he could rest and be back on the field for the Rays' 4-3 win over the Pirates on Sunday. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a bunt single that scored Evan Longoria in the fourth inning.
"I wanted to come back and be able to play today if Joe [Maddon] needs me. I just wanted to get back in my routine again," Brignac said. "I'm happy to be back with the team, but at the same time, I'm missing him every second."
Price, Moore will both pitch against O's
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- David Price will make his scheduled start against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday, the same day Matt Moore will make his Spring Training debut.
Price, recovering from a stiff neck he sustained while toweling himself off Thursday, threw a bullpen session Sunday and said he was "a go" for Tuesday's start. He said he has felt no soreness in his neck and would only make one change to his routine going forward.
"Be easy with the towels," Price said. "That's about it."
Moore will also pitch in Tuesday's contest against Baltimore. He has been out most of the spring with a strained abdominal muscle, threw batting practice Saturday and has been cleared to get on the mound Tuesday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Moore can still be sufficiently stretched out to be in the starting rotation by Opening Day. The Rays will stick with their six-man rotation for now, finding innings for Moore in Minor League games if he needs to get more work.
• Infielder Sean Rodriguez is still day to day with a sprained left index finger. He hit off a tee Sunday and said he hopes to be back on the field in a few days.
• Rays manager Joe Maddon said none of the four players in the mix for the club's backup catcher spot have truly distinguished themselves so far in camp. He said Stephen Vogt has separated himself offensively "a little bit," but nobody has been "overly impressive." Maddon praised the defensive ability of all four, pointing out that Jose Lobaton has probably thrown the best from behind the plate.
• Asked if there was any need to separate similar pitchers like James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson, or Matt Moore and David Price, in the rotation, Maddon said he thought the concept was "a little overrated." That means he won't feel obligated to separate left-handers Moore and Price or right-handers Shields, Hellickson, Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis.
"I don't think they're going to feel like they have an advantage there, that it's going to be easy," Maddon said. "'Oh, we're going to see Matt Moore and David Price back-to-back. Oh, good, we're going to figure the other guy out.' I don't see that. I think sometimes that gets overplayed."
• Maddon said he will shave his head with a No. 1 blade on Thursday, paying tribute to children battling cancer with benefits going toward the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital.
Maddon then quipped: "My hair does grow relatively quick. I hope that this is not going to put a damper on the reproduction process in my follicles."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.