With camp officially in the books, the Tampa Bay Rays are ready to start the Grapefruit League season on Saturday. Rays players were able to get in one last workout, albeit a shortened one, on Friday. Position players worked on popups as well as cutoffs and relays under the cloudy and windy conditions, while, Oliver Drake, Brooks Pounders, and Deck McGuire threw live batting practice.
Manager Kevin Cash was complimentary of Oliver Drake, who has been working on a slide piece.
I’ve heard that he said he wanted to certainly improve against all hitters, but righties were one. If the breaking ball works, that should help him out a lot.— Kevin Cash
For his part, Drake said he was looking to improve on what he may have done poorly last season, namely facing right-handed hitters.
Just working on something was a focus this offseason, just trying to find how to improve on last year. Looked at what I did well, looked at what I did poorly. I think a breaking ball would help, so just fiddling with that and we’ll see how it works.— Oliver Drake
Drake was a reverse splits pitcher last season, holding southpaw hitters to a .363 on-base plus slugging, while righties put up a .857 OPS.
Kevin Cash announced a tentative starting lineup (below) for Saturday’s contest against the Boston Red Sox. Starters are expected to get two at-bats.
Trevor Richards will get the start, while Jalen Beeks, Peter Fairbanks, John Curtiss, Joe Ryan, Tyler Zombro, Sam McWilliams, and Ryan Thomspon are all scheduled to pitch for Tampa Bay.
Rays 2/22/20 Starting Lineup
— Manuel Margot, who has only played in centerfield at the big-league level, will get the start in left field after much contemplation by the Rays skipper. Margot said (through a team translator) that he is confident at either corner position in the outfield.
I’m just here to do the best that I can. I feel I’m a good enough athlete to adjust.— Manuel Margot
— Yoshi Tsutsugo will get the start in left field against the Yankees on Sunday, in Port Charlotte. Cash said Tsutsugo looked comfortable at third base, where he got some early work.
He looked really comfortable over there. It’s not the easiest setting, the turf is kind of matted down to where it’s fast over there. Some of those guys that have been in camp the last couple years recognize that, but Yoshi did a good job.— Kevin Cash
Tsutsugo said (through a team translator) that he’s looking forward to game action.
We still have some time until we open the (regular) season so I just want to keep it normal. I want to be consistent, to learn as much as possible until we get into the season.— Yoshi Tsutsugo
— Jose Alvarado will throw his first live batting practice session on Sunday.
— Two-way player Brendan McKay has been dealing with shoulder stiffness, which is why he has not thrown live batting practice. McKay did throw from 120 feet on Friday and is expected to throw a bullpen session tomorrow or Sunday.
— Ryan Yarbrough, Andrew Kittredge, and Colin Poche are scheduled to pitch against the Yankees on Sunday.