Wednesday marked the first day of live batting practice for the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte. Tyler Glasnow was impressive in his outing, while left-handers Jeffrey Springs and Kenny Rosenberg, and right-handers Andrew Kittredge, Tyler Zombro, Yacksel Ríos, Chris Ellis, Hunter Strickland, Pete Fairbanks, Ryan Thompson, and Michael Wacha also took the mound.
Glasnow threw 29 pitches to Ji-Man Choi, Joey Wendle, Yandy Díaz, Austin Meadows, Manuel Margot, and Willy Adames, with an up/down after the first three batters. Rays skipper Kevin Cash said Glasnow had a good tempo and his cutter/slider — which he recently added to his arsenal — also looked good.
He looked tremendous. I can’t imagine what it feels like to throw a baseball like he does. Just sitting from that catcher point of view or even a right-handed, left-handed hitter point of view, it’s amazing how it explodes. … I’m not sure if he’s going to call it a cutter or slider, but it’s got a chance to be another special pitch for him. So he’ll continue to work. His tempo was really good, and the velocity looked just like it did in October.— Kevin Cash
Hitters mostly tracked and took pitches, although Wendle and Díaz made contact; Wendle hit a chopper up the middle while Díaz laced a hit to right — shocker, I know (Díaz hit 45.4% of his batted balls to right in 2020).
Glasnow mentioned that he was pleased with the session, and while he hasn’t settled on a name for his new pitch, he used it more than his fastball or curveball on Wednesday.
As far as grip goes and comfort level throwing it, it’s way higher than I expected, so I’m really happy about it. The shape is inconsistent right now a little bit. I think I can play with it a bit if I want it to be more sweepy or if I want it to be a little harder. I can kind of just change where my hand is on it.— Tyler Glasnow
Cash liked what he saw out of Kittredge, who worked hard to get back on the mound after he was hurt last season at Fenway Park. He was able to avoid Tommy John surgery.
That injury, that kind of shook all of us. It’s very encouraging the work that he put in. He definitely looked normal from my point of view, and I know the stuff that he’s throwing in the back with Kyle (Snyder) they’re very encouraged with where he’s at.— Kevin Cash
Cash was encouraged by what he saw out of Yacksel Rios, who signed a minor-league deal in the off-season. The key for Rios, however, will be staying in the zone.
Yacksel, there’s a lot to like. It’s just, let’s harness it in the zone as much as possible. A lot of very similar messages will be given to a lot of the new faces.— Kevin Cash
Cash was also complimentary of Jeffrey Springs, who was acquired from Boston on the first day of Spring Training.
(Springs) looked like a guy that a good feel for the fastball, change up, little breaking ball that he throws.— Kevin Cash
Meanwhile, as a means of increasing the team’s defensive versatility and flexibility, Brandon Lowe will get some reps at third base this Spring while Mike Brosseau will spend some time at short. Yoshi Tsutsugo, already capable of playing in the outfield and at third, will try to add first base to his profile.
He (Brandon Lowe) seemed open to it. It could be in-game versatility if it goes one direction, if it goes another direction maybe it’s getting some starts over there. It allows Joey (Wendle) to stay at second base, stay up the middle. We’ll play all of them different and see what we come up with.— Kevin Cash
Lowe, who got some off-season work at third, said he is open to whatever gives the team the best chance to win more ball-games.
If they think that I’d be a better fit at third, or they think that it’s going to help us win more games if I’m at third base. I have no problem with having another notch in my belt to somewhere that I can play.— Brandon Lowe
Finally, Cash said a full season for Randy Arozarena — plus having a healthy Austin Meadows, Ji-Man Choi, and Yandy Diaz — will be an offensive boon for the team.
Those are three key guys that for numerous reasons, got banged up at the wrong time. You get those guys healthy and timed up and in a normal routine, they really can thicken up, lengthen out our lineup because they can be special for us on a given night.— Kevin Cash