BAL@TB: Honeywell discusses inking his Rays contract

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays signed right-handed pitcher Brent Honeywell, their third selection from the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay drafted the 19-year-old Honeywell, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound screwballer out of Walters State Community College in Tennessee, with the 72nd overall pick, in Competitive Balance Round B. Honeywell went 11-3 with a 2.81 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings this season as a freshman at Walters State.

Honeywell was at Tropicana Field on Tuesday for the game against the Orioles. He was on the field pregame, where Rays players and coaches introduced themselves to the club's latest signee.

"This is a dream come true. I can't wait," Honeywell said. "I'm just a ballplayer -- I'm ready to play, I'm ready to get out there and play. It's hard, man, it's hard to explain. It's just, I love it. I love the game."

Honeywell said he got his screwball, a rarity of a pitch, from his cousin, former Major League pitcher and screwballer Mike Marshall, who passed it on to his father, Brent, Sr.

"They turned it over to me four years ago, and it took me a couple of years to really master the pitch," Honeywell said. "It's a true screwball. It's not a gimmick pitch."

In addition to his screwball, Honeywell also throws a two-seam fastball, a changeup that he said feeds into the screwball, and a curveball that he called a work in progress.

Honeywell said he has been assigned to the Princeton Rays in West Virginia, one of Tampa Bay's Rookie affiliates, and that he is headed there on Thursday. Brent Honeywell, Sr. played for Princeton when he was in the Pirates' system and Princeton was a Pittsburgh affiliate.

Maddon wants Rays to put stop on Trop chops

BAL@TB: Cruz ties the game with a high chopper

ST. PETERSBURG -- The "Baltimore chop" came into play in Monday night's 5-4 victory over the Orioles, when Nelson Cruz drove home the tying run in the eighth inning with a bases-loaded chop.

Jerry Sands' two-run pinch-hit home run in the bottom half allowed the Rays to overcome the downside of Monday night's chop, but Rays manager Joe Maddon hopes to eliminate said hops at the Trop.

"We've had a lot of [Baltimore chops]," Maddon said. "It's turning into the Tampa Bay chop or the St. Petersburg chop. We have to figure out a way to get rid of that chop. That's been a part of the game recently for us and that's something we're not used to.

"This is a great field and we know the grounds crew is working to get rid of that. ... We gotta get rid of that. I don't want it. I don't want it. I don't like it."

When asked about the cause of the hard pan in front of home plate, Maddon shrugged.

"I don't know if it's a mixture in the dirt," Maddon said. "They've watered it like crazy. But it's played a lot differently this year.

"Everything is the same. Nothing has changed. So is there maybe a reason why [the area is] getting dryer quicker? We're going to find out if that is true or not and we'll make some adjustments. But there has been nothing different in regards to the makeup of the dirt. How much they've been watering, how much they're raking it. That's all the same."

Maddon could be seen prior to Tuesday night's game talking to members of the grounds crew. But he did not tell them to do something to change the area.

"Whatever they think," Maddon said. "I don't know what to tell them. Actually, I did take care of a field one time, and I did stay at a Holiday Inn one night.

"When it comes down to the field, I used to be able to grow green grass really well, but I was never good with the dirt, quite frankly. It is about the dirt on a Major League baseball field. Anybody can grow green grass."

Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan said that he would "rather it be firmer than soft."

"When it's soft you don't know what the bounce is going to be, I don't have a problem with it," Hanigan said. "They've done different things with [the area]. I don't know exactly what, but it's been harder and softer at different points. I think they're messing with it for different reasons. I stay out of it."

Evan Longoria pointed out the significance of having a hard, rather than soft, area in front of home plate.

"We've got a lot of guys that throw ground balls," Longoria said. "Obviously Jake [Odorizzi] throws really hard, beats a lot of guys, and [Alex] Cobb and [Chris Archer], they throw ground balls. It's just been kind of an unfortunate outcome on some of the plays. But overall I feel like the field has played pretty well."

Worth noting

• Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson made his third rehab start on Tuesday night for Triple-A Durham. He allowed seven runs (four earned) on 12 hits with two strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings.