Left-hander Jose Alvarado threw live batting practice session on Saturday, throwing 15 pitches (13 or 14 strikes) with no swings taken by Brandon Lowe or Willy Adames.
After a disastrous 2019 campaign, Alvarado said he’s ready to pick up where he left off in Spring Training 1.0.
I’ve been working every day, and right now I’m ready to go. I’m very happy, because everything is good. My mom (who had health issues) is here, my father is here, my girlfriend is here.
I’m very excited, because I’m feeling like 100 percent ready to go, ready to compete in the games.— Jose Alvarado
Alvarado’s loved ones (parents and girlfriend) remained with him in Tampa Bay during the COVID-19 lockdown, which he is appreciative of and thankful for.
Rays manager Kevin Cash praised the work of the southpaw, saying that if Alvarado can regain his 2018 form, he will be a “dominating” weapon.
Saw Alvarado throw his first live (batting practice), and for good reason nobody decided to swing. It was about 15 pitches, and I think 13 or 14 were all strikes. Just filthy. Willy and Lowe were the contestants. I’m sure they won’t volunteer to do it again for a while. That was really good to see. …When he’s right, he can be as dominating as anybody in the game.— Kevin Cash
Meanwhile, 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi — who has been wearing protective goggles and a mask during workouts, and may continue to wear them during games too (per a Zoom call with the media) — hit right-handed during batting practice on Saturday. Reports out of Tropicana Field say that he looked good, lashing a handful of hard-hit liners from the right-handed side of the box.
Choi experimented with switch-hitting in 2015 with the Mariner’s Triple-A affiliate, going 6-14 with three walks, a double, and just two punchouts. Cash said he has seen Choi (who does it to loosen up) take batting practice right-handed before, saying, “It’s pretty impressive,” although it wouldn’t appear that Ji-Man will be a switch-hitting weapon during regular play this season.
It’s pretty impressive. I know he used to be a switch-hitter so in a way he’s got more reps than other guys that do that but it looked pretty smooth pretty clean. But we like what he can do left-handed we’ll keep him hitting left-handed.— Kevin Cash
Speaking of the now-iconic 1B/DH, Choi can add hand sanitizer magnate to his resumé.
Ji-Man said he’s worried about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the United States. A native Korean, Choi saw how effectively his home country handled the Coronavirus outbreak in South Korea, which effectively flattened the curve in a matter of weeks.
Overall, 29 players were seen on the field for day two of Summer Camp, with the same three not appearing — Yonny Chirinos, Chaz Roe, and Jose Martinez. Additionally, outfielders Randy Arozarena and Austin Meadows, as well as right-handed pitcher Tyler Glasnow weren’t seen on the main field yesterday. Each participated in one of the eight groups on Friday. Before COVID-19 speculation creeps in, all three could very well have been working in other areas of the ballpark.
At any rate, it bears reminding that teams have been told not to comment on COVID-19 related issues due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) concerns unless a player gives explicit permission.
According to Neil Solondz (Rays Radio), the team worked in shifts for a second straight day, with some players doing drills, not in view from the press box.
Finally, the team has tentatively scheduled a live five-to-six inning batting practice/simulated game on Wednesday. Rays skipper Kevin Cash noted that while there isn’t an exhibition game scheduled, it’s important for the position players to get used to standing in the field for extended periods of time.
Summer Camp continues from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Trop on Sunday.