The offseason is over. Tampa Bay Rays pitchers and catchers officially reported to camp on Wednesday, joining a couple of handfuls of position players that arrived early. All told, at least 50 of the 65 players due in Port Charlotte have formally reported, including 33 pitchers and seven catchers.
Many Rays players underwent some noticeable changes during the offseason, with Blake Snell, Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, and Jalen Beeks gaining weight. Meanwhile, Yonny Chirinos, Nick Anderson, and Colin Poche each shed a few pounds.
Chirinos told Neil Solondz (Rays Radio) he lost weight in the offseason by increasing his running and altering his diet. He also mentioned he’s eating more meat and less rice, and reducing his overall portions.
Meanwhile, long reliever Jalen Beeks has been working on a slider which he intends to use instead of his cutter. Beeks predominantly leaned on his fastball/changeup/curve combination a season ago.
General Manager Erik Neander and Manager Kevin Cash sat down for a 19-minute presser Wednesday and both of them are looking forward to getting on the field with this year’s group.
You can hear the press conference in its entirety below.
Solondz highlighted a few of the points covered by Neander and Cash.
The offseason acquisitions will be a boon to the young core of players which remains largely intact
Compared to the number of transactions we’ve made the last several years I think this was a bit more modest. I think by and large this group it’s pretty similar, certainly by our standards.— Erik Neander
The team improved offensively during the offseason
The addition of Yoshi (Tsutsugo), of Jose Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, our assessment of him, that’s a lot of power, a lot of really good offense.— Eric Neander
The team improved on the defensive side with the additions of Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot
Very Rays player. Plays great defense, does some special things on the bases, and offensively he certainly has held his own and might have room to continue.— Kevin Cash
With the loss of Emilio Pagan, the Rays may depend on a closer by committee
With Emilio Pagan traded this past week, Cash and Neander said they do not have a set closer on the mound right now. Both felt the selfless attitudes of the relievers last year allowed the team to be creative and maximize the team’s success.— Neil Solondz
Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough could be starters or again pitch behind an opener
We’re going to do a lot of talking, a lot of listening. I personally don’t think we’ll have anything to announce until a lot of stuff unfolds towards the end of March. Everything’s on the table that we’re going to discuss over the next couple (of) weeks.— Kevin Cash
With picture day out of the way for pitchers and catchers, the first official workout of the spring will take place at 11:00 am Thursday, at Charlotte Sports Park.
— Did you miss out on our Rays Spring Training primer because you were so engrained in all of our hot, stadium stalemate coverage? We got you covered:
— Oh yeah, about that hot, stadium stalemate coverage…we got you covered on that as well: