Wander Franco, who played at the hot corner on Sunday, was optioned to the minors on Monday. (Photo Credit: Will Vragovic)

After an 8-7 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Rays will look to collect a W this afternoon against Boston. Allie Stetson was impressive in his inning of work yesterday, while Wander Franco played at the hot corner.

Allie collected the most impressive inning during Sunday’s loss, firing all nine pitches for strikes (100% strike rate) and fanned both Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna.

Allie, who has gone from pitching to playing in the field to moving back to the mound during his pro career, signed a minor league deal this past off-season — and previously worked out with Tyler Glasnow — and was encouraged by his outing.

I felt great, the focus of this spring has been strikes with the off-speed. I’ve been working on it and it was a lot of fun.

— Stetson Allie

The right-hander said feels he’s in a good spot.

I really invested time and money and being around the right people this off-season that could really help me to improve my game. Instead of being stubborn, I was like you know what, the one thing that I need is I need off-speed. I need to throw it in any count and I really worked on it this off-season.

— Stetson Allie

Kevin Cash was equally encouraged by Allie’s outing.

I know (Pitching Coach) Kyle (Snyder) had gone to work on some stuff. It’s really electric stuff. I’m looking forward to him getting back out there again soon.

— Kevin Cash

Franco was optioned to the minors on Monday, however, he took the field at the hot corner on Sunday in a clear sign that the Rays can have both Willy Adames and baseball’s top prospect on the same team at the big-league level.

Rays skipper Kevin Cash liked how the 20-year-old handled himself.

Looked good, looked comfortable. It’s a different angle but he’s had enough practice over there. …Pretty seamless. We saw a ton in the bubble (last year), in the early workouts, taking live ground balls at third. He looks very comfortable basically with a glove or a bat in his hand. As much as we shift guys and we practice in shifted positions, he’s turned multiple double plays on both sides of the bag as if he was playing second base. I think we’re all very comfortable wherever we stick him at those three spots.

— Kevin Cash

Franco made plays on the three grounders that were hit to him and was nearly part of a 5-6-3 double play although though he was a step slow on the play, citing the glare off a sign behind home plate. Franco said he felt comfortable at third.

I felt very, very good and comfortable like I’ve been playing there before. Luckily I felt really good.

— Wander Franco

Franco has done drill work at third this Spring as well as a member of the 2020 postseason taxi squad.

As Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) noted, “Franco also had an interesting day at the plate. Franco was robbed of a hit by Ozuna in left, was nearly robbed by Johan Camargo at short in a second at-bat, and then had Ronald Acuna Jr make a terrific catch in foul ground in right to end the third and final appearance at the plate. Franco also was thrown out at second on a steal attempt and says he wasn’t tagged. The game was on (the) radio only and there is no video replay in Spring Training.”

Meanwhile, Brett Phillips was pulled from the game due to left hamstring tightness. The outfielder felt the hamstring in the second inning when he scored from second on Kevan Smith’s two-run single.

Let’s see how he comes in tomorrow. If he comes in better tomorrow, then it’s probably not a major reason for concern. If he’s sore, then we’re going to have to take a little bit of a deeper look.

— Kevin Cash

Phillips, who is expected to get an MRI on the injury this afternoon, had done a great deal of hamstring maintenance in the off-season and was disappointed when he tweaked it.

The New What Next

Joe Ryan will get the start on the mound this afternoon against the Red Sox. Pete Fairbanks, Ryan Thompson, Shane McClanahan, and Josh Fleming also are slated to pitch. INF Taylor Walls is on the reserve list along with Brendan McKay, who is coming back from labrum surgery and could make his first at-bat of the Spring as a DH.

Rays 3/15/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Arozarena DH
  2. B. Lowe LF
  3. Diaz 3B
  4. Meadows RF
  5. Tsutsugo 1B
  6. Wendle 2B
  7. Kiermaier CF
  8. Zunino C
  9. Adames SS
  10. Ryan RHP


— As I alluded to above, the Rays made their first round of cuts this morning including the No. 1 prospect in the game, wunderkind Wander Franco. The list also includes infielders Xavier Edwards and Greg Jones, outfielders Moises Gomez and Garrett Whitley, catcher Blake Hunt, and pitchers Shane Baz, Phoenix Sanders, and Tyler Zombro.

Cash said in conversations with Baz, the right-hander expressed that he had only two pitches he could throw for strikes in any count, and now feels he has three with the development of a changeup.

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