First Rays workout done, with Odorizzi back, tempo quickened, Venters impressing

Rays players stretched out the kinks before the first workout of the spring. [CHRIS URSO | TAMPA BAY TIMES}
Rays players stretched out the kinks before the first workout of the spring. [CHRIS URSO | TAMPA BAY TIMES}
Published February 14

The first workout of Rays spring training lasted about two hours, and all appeared to go well.

* Manager Kevin Cash, as expected, was pleased with the overall conditioning of the players, the work they got done and the communication among the coaching staff, which included some new faces in different places.

* Pitcher Jake Odorizzi reported to camp, as expected, after returning from his Monday arbitration hearing in Arizona. With Odorizzi the subject of trade rumors with several teams, the joke was that the Rays had him in bubblewrap, but he indeed participated in the full workout. A decision on his hearing is expected on Thursday.

* One change to increase the game-speed level of drills was to use rubberized (and thus less hard) balls, called Soft Touch balls, so grounders and liners could be hit sharper to pitchers. Also, that pitchers rather than coaches played the role of infielders taking throws at the bases. And, for the hitters working out, there were screens around the infield to prompt them to hit more line drives and fewer ground balls.

* The only player who was supposed to be here today but wasn't was C Jesus Sucre, delayed by visa issues in his native Venezuela.

* Among pitchers who stood out to Cash were RHP Yonny Chirinos, who starred at Triple-A Durham last year but was making his big-league camp debut, and veteran LHP Jonny Venters, who is attempting to come back from "3- 1/2" Tommy John surgeries. "Probably the most raved about," Cash said.

* Players and team officials have been raving throughout winter drills about RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery late last season, and Cash said he can't wait to see him face hitters.

  • Pitchers and catchers work out again on Thursday, starting at 10:30 a.m., at the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte.
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