Max Scherzer sparkles with 9 K's in victory over Rays

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Jeremy Hellickson has not been happy with his performance for Tampa Bay all spring.

His manager is not worried.

The Rays' No. 2 starter allowed eight runs -six earned - in three innings of an 8-3 loss to the Detroit Tiger on Friday in his final tuneup before the regular season.

It's been a rough camp for Hellickson, who finished with a 6.75 ERA in Grapefruit League play. Hellickson, the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year, went 10-11 with a 3.10 ERA in last year while winning a Gold Glove.

"He's healthy, he's fine and that's all that matters," Joe Maddon said. "He'll be ready when it comes time to make his first start."

Hellickson said despite the results of his last five outings - 18 runs in 21 1-3 innings - he felt ready for the season. He will make his first start Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

"I haven't been pitching very good," Hellickson said. "I haven't been executing my pitches and I am pretty disappointed right now. That's not the way to go into the season."

Hellickson gave up homers to Prince Fielder, Alex Avila, and Omar Infante on Friday.

"I felt great the last two outings and I felt fine today," Hellickson said. "That's why it is so frustrating."

Hours after rotation-mate Justin Verlander got the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher, Max Scherzer extended his dominant spring training with six innings of one-hit ball. Scherzer, the Tigers' No. 5 starter, finishes the spring with a 0.57 ERA. He struck out nine and has only allowed one earned run over 25 1-3 innings.

"I like where I am right now," Scherzer said. "There are still ways I can be better and I have things I can still work on, but I am 100 percent ready to get this season started."

Verlander agreed to a $180 million, seven-year contract, topping Felix Hernandez for the richest deal for a pitcher in baseball history.

Miguel Cabrera had two doubles for the Tigers and Austin Jackson tripled. Sam Fuld homered off Octavio Dotel for the Rays.

NOTES: Maddon announced his starting rotation: LHP David Price will start on opening day on Tuesday followed by Hellickson. RHP Roberto Hernandez, LHP Matt Moore, and RHP Alex Cobb will follow. . Moore will start Saturday at Tropicana Field in the Grapefruit League finale against Detroit's Doug Fister. RHP Rick Porcello will start for Double-A Erie in a game on one of the back fields in Lakeland on Saturday against Double-A Corpus Christi. . INF Danny Worth was optioned to Triple-A Toledo leaving the Tigers roster at 25.

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