10 days after receiving a cortisone shot in his left elbow, Blake Snell made his triumphant return to the mound in what would go down as a frustrating 22-pitch, 1/3 of an inning outing on Monday. Snell walked four of the five batters he faced and threw just six total strikes, good for a 27% strike rate.
Yet, as frustrating as Monday afternoon was for the left-hander, Snell’s elbow appeared healthy and his fastball was clocked at 97-98 mph on the in house radar gun in Dunedin — two-to-three miles per hour faster than his highest reading last season.
Still, the issue at hand was Snell’s fastball control and command, or lack thereof. He repeatedly missed high and outside to right-handed hitters (or high and inside to southpaws), acknowledging that he was opening up too much while throwing his fastball.
When my arm feels that good, I can’t allow four walks. That’s just ridiculous, honestly. Four walks, that’s brutal.— Blake Snell
He did have a good feel for his slider, which was the only pitch that he threw to induce a whiff against Toronto.
Rays manager Kevin Cash chalked up the frustrating outing to Snell being overamped as he tried to prove that he is not ailing.
He probably went out there with the thought that, I don’t know, putting too much on to show that he was healthy. … But we checked the box that he’s back out there. Looked very, very much healthy.— Kevin Cash
Also aggravating for the former Cy Young Award winner, the February 28th cortisone shot forced him to restart his spring program. Ideally speaking, Monday’s outing should have been closer to four or five innings, or 60-75 pitches. Now, due to the delay, Snell is likely to be set back until the second or third series of the season.
Disappointments aside, Snell took the frustrating outing in stride, striking a very Charlie Morton like tone, saying, “It’s good to see failure because I was feeling so good and so confident. To fail is always good because that’s what I’m going to learn the most from. To go out there, feel that great and fail, I think I’m going to learn a lot more about that.”
Snell still feels like he can use the remaining three-plus weeks to make sure he’s ready for Opening Day.
It’s time to lock in and get going because it’s a big year for us and I got to be on it.— Blake Snell
— Jalen Beeks and Andrew Kittredge combined for five innings of work on Monday, another step-up in pitch count as Tampa Bay looks to keep both as realistic options for bulk innings or spot starts.
— With a well-deserved off-day slated for Tuesday, snapping a 17-game spate of play which included a pair of split-squad matchups, Zachary Silver (MLB.com) sat down with the Rays skipper for a brief Spring Training mid-term evaluation.
Cash expressed a great deal of confidence with what he’s seen so far.
I think that camp has gone really, really well. We’ve avoided injuries, major injuries to date. We got to see some players that we’re really excited about. … Our new guys seem to be fitting in really, really well in the clubhouse. It’s basically all you can ask for.— Kevin Cash
Cash welcomed the brief respite, especially since his club has averaged just two-runs per game across the last six contests.
Welcome? It’s very welcome. Our last couple days, I think we showed it on the field. Everybody hit that lull, so the off-day will be good, and hopefully we can come back a little energized from that.— Kevin Cash