The Tampa Bay Rays took of the Boston Red Sox, in Port Charlotte, on the first day of camp with the updated rules related to the coronavirus pandemic.
All locker rooms and clubhouses will only be open to players and essential club employees until further notice. During this period, those prohibited from the clubhouse include credentialed media, team staff, family members, guests, and outside vendors.
Players, as well as Manager Kevin Cash, said the situation is different, although they understand the nuts and bolts of the circumstances.
This is pretty unique. Everybody involved including MLB is trying to be smart about it. Educated people a heck of a lot more educated than me are making these decisions, so we go with them and we listen.— Kevin Cash
Kevin Kiermaier said there are serious concerns among the players.
I think it’s very, very scary and you just hope we’re doing all the right things necessary to keep us out of harm’s way. Everyone throughout the whole world, the same thing.— Kevin Kiermaier
While inconvenient, these are ultimately small steps put in place by Major League Baseball — measures that will fade once the pandemic scare is reduced.
However, bigger changes could be coming in the short-term. Some teams, like the Mariners, have been told they won’t be allowed to play games in Seattle at the start of the season. There is also increasing discussion of games being played throughout the league without fans.
While unprecedented in the United States, sporting events in Italy have been canceled at least until the end of the month. Meanwhile, Japanese officials postponed the start of the 12-team professional baseball league season on Monday because of the spread of the coronavirus which is responsible for COVID-19.
Kiermaier, the longest-tenured Ray, said the unusual time calls for unprecedented measures.
We’re in an industry where everyone is obviously trying, our team, our organization is looking out for each and every player.
It’s wild to think about, but if that’s what it’s going to take then we have to adapt and be open with whatever is asked of us. There is no way around it. If it comes to that, then so be it. Obviously, we want to play in front of our fans and on the road. That’s just the way the game is supposed to be played. But we’ve never seen anything quite like this before.— Kevin Kiermaier
MLB has indicated an awareness of the situation and acknowledged the “fluidity” inherent to it. One would imagine that the urgency of the matter will lead the league to take a leadership position as the dangers become all the more evident.
Prior to Wednesday’s contest, Tampa Bay announced six more roster cuts, reducing the total number of players in big-league camp to 54. The latest group includes C Rene Pinto, 1B/OF Dalton Kelly, INF Miles Mastrobuoni, OF Ryan LaMarre, and right-handed pitchers Joe Ryan and Tyler Zombro.
The updated roster is below; players designated with an asterisk are non-roster invites:
Pitchers — Jose Alvarado, Nick Anderson, Anthony Banda, Jalen Beeks, Diego Castillo, Yonny Chirinos, Dylan Covey*, John Curtiss*, Oliver Drake, Pete Fairbanks, Josh Fleming*, Sean Gilmartin*, Tyler Glasnow, Andrew Kittredge, Aaron Loup*, Shane McClanahan*, Charlie Morton, Deck McGuire*, Brendan McKay, Sam McWilliams*, Colin Poche, Brooks Pounders*, Trevor Richards, Chaz Roe, Phoenix Sanders*, Ryan Sherriff*, Aaron Slegers*, Blake Snell, DJ Snelten*, Ryan Thompson*, Ryan Yarbrough.
Catchers — Chris Herrmann*, Michael Perez, Kevan Smith,* Brett Sullivan*, Mike Zunino
Infielders — Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, Nathaniel Lowe, Jose Martinez, Daniel Robertson, Taylor Walls*, Joey Wendle.
Outfielders — Randy Arozarena, Dylan Cozens*, Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Austin Meadows, Brian O’Grady, Hunter Renfroe, Yoshi Tsutsugo.
In exhibition game action, Tampa Bay fell to Boston 3-1 under the lights. Rays No. 7 prospect, Shane McClanahan, got the start and continued to gas the opposition — lighting up the radar gun by hitting 99 mph a handful of times and topping out at 100 mph. Yet, while his velocity is great, McClanahan says he feels he needs to be in the strike zone more frequently.
I don’t measure success by velocity. A 100 is cool but it doesn’t matter if it’s not in the zone. Just ultimately learn from it, work on it, get back out there and fill up the zone.— Shane McClanahan
McClanahan threw 20 of 33 pitches for strikes (61% strike rate) across 1-1/3 innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out one.
McClanahan gave credit to the defense for getting him out of the early jam.
Yandy (Diaz) made a great dive. Ji-Man had a hell of an effort to get back to first. Lots of good plays behind me.— Shane McClanahan
Manager Cash said McClanahan could become a piece to the 2020 puzzle at some point this season.
You don’t see many 98 mph fastballs, with just unhittable breaking balls when they’re right in the zone. And that’s kind of what we’ve seen out of him. A lot to be excited about with him and a lot of the other guys.— Kevin Cash
The New What Next
Brendan McKay will make his second Grapefruit League appearance — first start — Thursday afternoon against the Phillies, in Port Charlotte. José Alvarado, Chaz Roe, and Colin Poche are also slated to pitch for Tampa Bay.
Rays 3/12/20 Starting Lineup
- Meadows LF
- Zunino C
- Tsutsugo DH
- Renfroe RF
- Kiermaier CF
- Martinez 1B
- Wendle SS
- N. Lowe 3B
- Robertson 2B
- McKay LHP
— On Tuesday, Ryan Yarbrough, Tyler Glasnow and Pete Fairbanks pitched in a simulated game on the backfields.
Yarbrough pitched to catcher Kevan Smith and faced Nate Lowe, Mike Zunino, and Daniel Robertson. He worked four innings and threw 60 pitches (40 strikes, 67% strike rate).
Cash was impressed by what he saw.
His ball moves everywhere. The late movement that he can create is really, really impressive. You understand why he’s had so much success in his first two seasons.— Kevin Cash
Glasnow pitched to Zunino and faced Lowe, Smith, and Robertson, pitching three innings and throwing 50 pitches (27 strikes, 54% strike rate). Fairbanks also pitched to Zunino and faced Lowe, Smith and Robertson. Fairbanks pitched one frame and threw 21 pitches (14 strikes, 67% strike rate).
— Blake Snell is slated to throw a simulated game Saturday in Port Charlotte since he was lined up to face the Blue Jays three consecutive times.