NEW YORK — Blake Snell was prepping to pitch as scheduled for Triple-A Durham in Norfolk, Va., on Friday night. Erasmo Ramirez was slated to start for the Rays in today's matinee against the Yankees.
But then one thing led to another.
Thursday afternoon, Rays manager Kevin Cash decided he needed Ramirez to bail them out in the seventh inning in Boston.
Friday, Rays officials decided Snell would be called up to make his major-league debut today, starting at Yankee Stadium.
"It surprised me," said Snell, who will wear No. 4, an unusual single-digit choice for a pitcher. "I thought I felt good and I was ready, but I didn't know how they felt. I saw that their staff was doing good, so I didn't think they were going to make a move. But I'm here now, and I'm very excited about it."
Cash said the plan is for Snell to make just the one start and be sent back to Durham. After today, the Rays could go until May 10 without needing a fifth starter again, but Cash said it was too early to speculate what they will do or if Ramirez would stay in the bullpen until then.
Today, they are just excited to see Snell, 23, pitch.
After sputtering through the minors for four seasons, Snell rose fast in 2015. He moved from advanced Class A Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery to Durham, compiling a 15-4, 1.41 record and earning Baseball America and USA Today minor-league player of the year honors and top prospect status. He is 1-1, 2.51 in three starts this season for Durham.
"There is genuine excitement throughout the organization," Cash said. "This young man has been talked about quite a bit. We got to see him in spring training. The way he carried himself was spot-on. His stuff speaks for itself, obviously.
"It just seemed right. He's going to come up here and help us win a ball game."
Cash said he was confident the low-key, laid-back Snell would not be impacted by the stage.
"The anxiety and excitement of making your first major-league start, I think everybody has that, but where the start is I really don't think that will be a factor," Cash said. "He might not even know where he's at."
Snell did — it's his first visit to New York City. His mom, girlfriend, aunt and uncle, and a couple of buddies are flying in from Seattle to watch. His dad, who coaches a junior college team, won't be able to make it.
Snell already will make it memorable by choosing No. 4, which he said has been his favorite since he started playing youth sports. He said when he got to the minors he knew it was customary for pitchers to wear double digits, so he chose 11, but he decided that in the majors he would go back to 4. (Catching/assistant hitting coach Jamie Nelson gave it up and switched to 44.)
Snell was already on the Rays' 40-man roster. To make room on the on the 25-man active roster late Friday, they sent down reliever Danny Farquhar, who had a 3.38 ERA through six appearances. After Snell pitches today and is sent back down, expect another reliever to be called up. With Andrew Bellatti set back due to soreness, either Jhan Marinez or Tyler Sturdevant are possible. Another option could be Matt Andriese, who was passed over for Snell, but he is more likely to stay in the Durham rotation.
Snell's one-day callup won't have any impact on his future eligibility for arbitration or free agency except that he got one day of service time. Knowing it is likely to be a one-day gig won't tarnish the moment.
"I got called up to pitch against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. If I'm not happy about that, I'm just not a happy person," Snell said. "So it's definitely really exciting. I'm happy to be here."