A few Tampa Bay Rays centric notes with just three-days left until Opening Day of the 2018 season.
— During the their final spring road contest against the Tigers on Monday, the Rays formally released LOOGY Dan Jennings. In doing so, they will pay the reliever $574,597 — one fourth of his $2.375-million non-guaranteed salary.
I said it to him, I’ll say it to you guys — he’s a big-league pitcher, manager Kevin Cash said. I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t find himself on a big-league roster here soon.
His release had more to do with the team’s plan to carry four multi-inning relievers to support a four-man rotation; Jose Alvarado won the left-handed short relief job.
Jennings will be free to sign elsewhere after he clears release waivers on Wednesday.
It wasn’t a slight to DJ at all, said Cash. The way we’re set up with four guys that we need to go longer we’ve got confidence those guys can do it. And Jose Alvarado belongs on our team.
— The Rays have yet to make a transaction regarding RHP Daniel Hudson, who was also told on Sunday that he would not break camp with the team. They hope to find a trade parter for the hurler to avoid paying $4.5-million to release him.
— LHP Jonny Venters was formally reassigned to minor-league camp on Monday in spite an impressive spring. Venters collected eight scoreless frames in his bid to return to the big leagues for the first time since 2012 after sustaining multiple elbow injuries.
The Rays would like to have Venters at Durham for a potential call-up and/or pitching depth, although they are reportedly willing to trade him as a courtesy if another team was to offer a Major League spot.
— Chris Archer, who was hit by a comebacker on Friday, threw his previously scheduled bullpen session on Monday. Kevin Cash said Archer threw 30 pitches and had no issues from the right forearm bruise he sustained from the one hopper in his final spring tuneup before the regular season. Cash has “no concern whatsoever” about his availability to pitch on Opening Day.
— Nathan Eovaldi completed his solid spring campaign on a high note, going six innings against the Tigers in which he allowed seven hits, walked one and fanned four on 89 pitches (60 strikes). Eovaldi’s fastball reached 99 miles per hour (98 in his final inning of work).
The right-hander was pleased with how the day went and his Spring overall after rehabbing last season from Tommy John surgery:
I expected it to go well, Eovaldi said. But I was a little bit more pleased with how everything went, how I was able to bounce back from all the outings and go out there every five or six days.
Cash told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) Eovaldi has done well enough that the Rays may occasionally relax their plans to limit and manage his workload.
— There was a slight scare in the ninth inning of Monday’s contest as Jesus Sucre was removed after taking back-to-back foul balls off the mask. Cash said Sucre is fine, and was removed for precautionary reasons.
— The decision between Johnny Field and Brandon Snyder (or bringing in an outside player) for the fifth outfield spot won’t be made until after Tuesday’s game at the earliest. In fact, Cash said the final roster spot decision could come down to Thursday morning at 11:30 when the rosters have to be set.
— Thanks to Steve Carney (WDAE), we get a first look at the new turf at Tropicana Field. Other changes: the Seminole Hard Rock Casino is sponsoring the Game 162 Landing in left field, and a rather large Coke bottle looming over right-center field, just above the ray tank.
— “Yonny Chirinos said after he was told he had made the team, he tried to call his parents, but they were in church, writes Carney. So he called his brother to get the message to his parents, then called his girlfriend who is also still in Venezuela.”
Chirinos also said he’s been to just one Major League Baseball game in his life. After he signed with Tampa Bay, the team brought him to Tropicana Field to see a game. Suffice it to say, his next big league game will be from a much different perspective.