While the Tampa Bay Rays played an exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, resulting in a 2-2 tie, Charlie Morton got in a 60+ pitch simulated ballgame on the backfields of Charlotte Sports Park.
Morton got four ups and downs — the equivalent of four innings of work — and threw more than 60 pitches while facing his teammates in the simulated game. The right-hander felt that while he got in more work than he anticipated, that work was productive.
My second up, I couldn’t throw a strike and that gave me an opportunity to make some corrections, which I did.— Charlie Morton
Kyle Snyder was behind Morton, voicing any concerns that popped up given that “some bad habits you can get to (and fix) early,” Morton said.
Morton was able to increase his pitch count and use all four pitches without worry that the Pirates, whom the Rays will face on March 26th — and who they squared off against on Sunday — would catch on.
Morton will throw a five-inning/75-pitch simulated game his next time out followed by one last Grapefruit League outing before his likely first Opening Day start in his 13-year career.
It’d be special. It’s an honor. It’s something that most guys will tell you that they’d like to do it at least once.— Charlie Morton
Meanwhile, Josh Fleming, the Montgomery Biscuits’ MVP last season, made the start against the Pirates. Fleming allowed a run on a walk and a bloop single across three innings of work. He struck out two and threw 37 pitches (23 strikes, 62% strike rate).
He’s going to be a fun guy to follow this year. He can really pitch, he can really change speeds, and he uses both sides of the plate. He’s confident throwing off-speed pitches at any time in the count.— Kevin Cash
Relievers Nick Anderson and Oliver Drake each threw scoreless frames. Anderson told Neil Solondz he feels good about where he is this spring.
Just working on stuff every day, trying to get comfortable on the mound again. Getting out there frequently and feeling better.— Nick Anderson
You can hear Anderson’s interview in its entirety on the SoundCloud player below, courtesy of Rays Radio.
Prior to the start of Sunday’s contest, Tampa Bay made its first cuts of the spring, reducing the spring roster from 67 to 60. All of the moves were expected.
The Rays optioned Lucius Fox, Vidal Brujan, Ronaldo Hernandez, Kevin Padlo, and Brent Honeywell. Right-handers Paul Campbell and Tristan Gray were reassigned to minor league camp.
I think all those guys made really good impressions. All were positive conversations and time for them to get down there.— Kevin Cash
Honeywell has been throwing bullpens as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery and a fracture in his throwing arm. Campbell was delayed due to injury at the start of camp, while Padlo was absent from camp for a couple of weeks due to severe headaches that are being controlled with medication.
Manager Kevin Cash was especially impressed by Brujan and Fox.
Brujan’s really athletic, can play second and short, and shows a knack at the plate. I think Lucius the same way. We challenged him a little bit, sticking him in the outfield. He seemed to be comfortable with that.— Kevin Cash
With minor-league Spring Training contests still about a week away, more roster cuts can be expected over the next few days.
The New What Next
Blake Snell will take the mound on Monday, in Dunedin, a little over a week after receiving a cortisone shot in his left elbow. He’ll be opposed by the Blue Jays’ ace, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Rays 3/9/20 Starting Lineup
- Tsutsugo 3B
- Martínez 1B
- Kiermaier CF
- Adames SS
- Wendle 2B
- Robertson DH
- Perez C
- LaMarre LF
- O’Grady RF
- Snell LHP
— Yoshi Tsutsugo will make his first start away from the Charlotte Sports Park on Monday.
Tsutsugo is slated to play third base against the Blue Jays — making his fourth start at the hot corner. Tsutsugo has put together a solid spring thus far, slashing .250 BA/.348 OBP/.450 SLG/.798 OPS with a home run and three RBI while splitting time between third base and left field.
— After throwing an impressive scoreless inning on Friday, two-way player Brendan McKay will make his first spring start on Thursday against the Phillies. McKay has yet to step into a batter’s box during an exhibition game this spring.
— The Rays and Austin Meadows have begun preliminary discussions about a potential extension. Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), both sides are open to the possibility, although talks have not yet reached the exchange-of-numbers stage. Locking up the soon-to-be 25-year-old, who slashed .291 BA/.364 OBP/.558 SLG/.922 OPS with 33 home runs, 89 RBI, and a 142 wRC+ last season, would certainly be a boon for the ball club.