Blake Snell made his first appearance of the spring on Wednesday and put together a perfect frame in the Rays 10-8 loss to the Twins.
Snell threw 15 of 21 pitches for strikes (71% strike rate), saying he’s already ahead of last year’s pace.
I feel a lot more ahead, a lot more advanced. I can throw the ball in the zone, out of the zone. I feel a lot better than I did last year for sure. …Overall, first start, I’m happy with it. I liked the consistency of the pitches, and I liked the confidence and poise I had. Usually I’m pretty lost the first couple of games, just ‘cause I haven’t done it, but I felt a lot more in control and a lot more confident. So I felt really good about that.— Blake Snell
Snell leaned on four of his pitches, although he was frustrated that he didn’t throw a slider against a right-handed hitter — something that is a focus for him this spring.
Rays skipper Kevin Cash agreed with Snell’s assessment, saying he liked the way the southpaw mixed his pitches.
Kyle has put an emphasis on adding the slider a little bit more frequently. He did do that, which was good.— Kevin Cash
Cash also thought that Andrew Kittredge and Diego Castillo were sharp, with Kittredge retiring all five batters he faced and Castillo putting together a perfect frame.
You can hear Cash’s post-game presser below, courtesy of Rays Radio.
Meanwhile, José Alvarado scuffled in his first appearance since enduring a season-ending elbow injury last August. Alvarado retired just one batter and struggled with his command, throwing just 12 of 27 pitches for strikes (44% strike rate). He allowed a pair of runs while striking out one.
In spite of the outcome though, Alvarado said he was “so happy” to return to the mound. He also mentioned that he’s confident his command will improve throughout the spring.
I got close to almost six months without seeing a hitter and not pitching in a game. I’m feeling great because I’m feeling the power in my arm. A little bit too quick and too early over my right arm, but everything is good. I’m feeling good.— José Alvarado
After playing in left field on Sunday, and hitting out of the DH role on Monday, Yoshi Tsutsugo saw his first action at third base. Yoshi made one play, the only one that came his way.
Tsutsugo praised Willy Adames for his help in positioning, which both players spoke about after the game.
It should be mentioned, Tampa Bay led 5-2 before the starters left for both sides. Minnesota came back with eight unanswered runs before the Rays capped the scoring with three runs in the ninth inning for the final score.
The New What Next
The Rays will see split-squad action on Thursday, as they play host to the Tigers in Port Charlotte and will visit the Yankees just down the road from Mons Venus, in Tampa. Tyler Glasnow will get the start against the Tigers, while Aaron Slegers will get the start against New York. Of note, Wander Franco is expected to come off the bench and see his first big-league action in Port Charlotte.
Franco is the top prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline and is slated to replace Willy Adames at short halfway through the game.
Franco slashed .339 BA/.408 OBP/.464 SLG/.872 OPS across 52 games with Class-A Advanced Charlotte last season. The 18-year-old will also be in the starting lineup against the reigning World Series champions on Friday.
As Juan Toribio (MLB.com) made mentioned, Rays manager Kevin Cash has watched Franco play in instructional leagues at Tropicana Field and on television, but Thursday will be the first time he’ll get to watch the 18-year-old live in a game.
We’re looking forward to watching him play. You read about him, you hear about him. Our staff raves about him in player development all for good reason — now it’s our turn to not watch him on TV, and we get to watch him in person.— Kevin Cash
Rays 2/27/20 Starting Lineup vs. the Tigers
- Austin Meadows LF
- Hunter Renfroe RF
- Yoshitomo Tsutsugo DH
- Yandy Díaz 3B
- José Martínez 1B
- Kevin Kiermaier CF
- Mike Zunino C
- Joey Wendle 2B
- Willy Adames SS
- Tyler Glasnow RHP
Rays 2/27/20 Starting Lineup vs. the Yankees
- Manuel Margot RF
- Brandon Lowe LF
- Daniel Robertson 2B
- Ji-Man Choi 1B
- Nate Lowe 3B
- Ryan LaMarre CF
- Michael Perez C
- Ronaldo Hernandez DH
- Taylor Walls SS
- Aaron Slegers RHP
— Interesting article by Ken Rosenthal (The Athletic; paid subscription), who wrote,
Still, the events of the past several weeks seemingly have created openings not only for the Rays, but also two other 2019 postseason qualifiers, the Twins and Athletics.— Ken Rosenthal
Shhh Ken, don’t blow our underdog cover!
— Shocker…well, it isn’t actually a shocker at all, but according to Sean Fitz-Gerald (The Athletic; paid subscription), Stu Sternberg isn’t the only owner who has attempted/is attempting to move a team north of the border, at least temporarily. In an article titled Why officials from a Major League Baseball franchise visited Vancouver, Fitz-Gerald wrote that B.C. Place Stadium was viewed as a potential home for the Diamondbacks in the event of a structural emergency at Chase Field, in Pheonix.
The Arizona Diamondbacks visited the Canadian city in 2018 amid concerns over the state of repairs at Chase Field, in Phoenix. Vancouver was on a list of a half-dozen potential (temporary) homes the team had received from MLB headquarters.
“While working at Major League Baseball, I provided the team with numerous possibilities, including Vancouver,” Joe Garagiola Jr., who is now special advisor to the Diamondbacks’ chief executive, said in a written statement to The Athletic. “Club executives visited there to determine the reality of making it a contingency plan.”
According to a government official in British Columbia who requested anonymity, the visitors received a walking tour of the stadium and were shown archival photographs from baseball games played within its walls. It opened in 1983 and has hosted everything from the Grey Cup to the Olympics to the Pope.— Sean Fitz-Gerald
— Let’s just call this just desserts.