Kean Wong, Willy Adames, and a couple of non-rostered prospects in the dugout on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

The Tampa Bay Rays may have fallen 5-4 in Ft. Myers on Sunday, however, manager Kevin Cash thought there were plenty of highlights. Starting pitcher Blake Snell made his first appearance of the Spring, and was outstanding over two perfect innings against Minnesota. Meanwhile, Jonny Venters made his first appearance of the Spring, and his first in MLB Spring Training since 2013, and C.J. Cron hit a massive blast to left-centerfield.

Snell tossed 17 of 24 pitches for strikes, while his fastball sat between 96 and 97 mph throughout the course of his two innings of work. The southpaw didn’t allow a ball to be hit out of the infield, and fanned four of the six batters faced. Snell also noticeably worked from the middle of the rubber; for context, he previously worked from the third-base side (see below).

Make note of Snell’s placement on the rubber in 2016. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux)

Cash praised Snell’s “really strong performance,” more specifically “just the way he came out of the gate, pumping 96-97 (mph) and dotting pitches where he wanted them.”

For his part Snell, was a little frustrated falling behind two hitters 3-0, although he worked his was back to strike both out.

Good fastball command, I fell behind, but came back, Snell said. Fastball was coming out good. Everything felt good.

Venters threw seven of 13 pitches for strikes, and coaxed a ground-ball double play after a one-out walk in a scoreless sixth inning. The lefty sat between 91 and 92 mph on his fastball, with good sink for the most part. Before his injuries, Venters was one of the best relievers in baseball, and relied heavily on his sinker.

Venters, who confessed to having trouble sleeping Saturday night, said his arm felt great during and after his one-inning stint, which is the most important thing considering he had battled through 3-1/2 Tommy John surgeries. Venters is confident he can sharpen up his stuff, specifically in throwing strikes and increasing velocity.

Hopefully it keeps getter better every time I get out there, Venters said after his outing.

Two offseason acquisitions, Cron and Christian Arroyo, made their Rays debut. Cron hit a mammoth blast that cleared the elevated walkway beyond the left-centerfield fence in the sixth inning, tying the game at four.

The first-baseman also doubled to left in the fourth.

Christian Arroyo, acquired from the Giants in the Evan Longoria trade, made a diving stop at third base, and went 1-for-3 at the plate, making hard contact all three times up.

I like the way he just played all around, looked really comfortable in the box, good swings, manager Kevin Cash said.

The New What Next

The Rays play host to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday in Port Charlotte. Chris Archer will make his spring debut, pitching opposite of Ryan Borucki. Also slated to throw for Tampa Bay are Jose De Leon, Ryan Weber, Hunter Wood, Andrew Kittredge, Adam Kolarek, Diego Castillo, and Ian Gibaut.

Rays 2/26/18 Starting Lineup

Duffy 3B
Coats RF
Cron DH
Snyder 1B
Adames SS
Smith CF
Robertson 2B
Sucre C
Johnson LF
Archer RHP


— Jake Odorizzi had a chance to catch up with his former team on Sunday, slighly more than a week after he got traded to the Twins.

The right-hander characterized his time with the team as “good” noting, “I wouldn’t be the player I am today without my time there and everybody who had a hand in getting me to that direction.”

He, however, had some feelings for those he left behind after the “inevitable” trade from the Rays:

I feel bad for the guys that are still there with the turnover, he said. It’s tough. They want to go out there, they want to compete, they want to win. And to have tools that help them do that be taken away, it makes things a lot more difficult.

As for his current team, Odorizzi said:

It’s good. It’s different to hear the talk around here of not being satisfied with making the playoffs last year. … I think everybody buys into there is something that could be special this season and it’s good to be a part of, and that side of it of going for it from the get-go.

— Carlos Gomez is expected to arrive in Port Charlotte today. Gomez, who agreed to a one-year, $4-million deal last week, will wear No. 27.

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