Saturday, September 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays journal: Improving baserunning an early focus in camp

PORT CHARLOTTE

One of the things the Rays need to improve this season is baserunning.

And they started that process Monday by talking about it, 1B coach Rocco Baldelli leading a discussion that started with being more aware of situations.

"We know that's an area with room for improvement," manager Kevin Cash said. "A little more thought process before something takes place, so when they get on base and a pitch goes by, revisit where the outfielders are, where the infielders are, outs, score, stuff like that. We think we can be a little better at it."

Fundamental mistakes — mental and physical — were part of the Rays' problems last season, and Cash said they plan to address them in different ways during the spring.

For example, one new twist Monday was having some players working during the tail end of batting practice on baserunning, taking leads off third.

Also, Cash has to improve his decision-making.

"I got caught doing that a couple times, running a guy that shouldn't have been running, or not running a guy that should've been," he said. "I've got to do a better job finding that balance."

Missing man

3B Evan Longoria missed the workout and wasn't at the facility because he was sick, texting manager Kevin Cash early Monday saying he felt bad, hadn't slept and had a fever. Longoria was in Tampa on Sunday night for a season-ticket holder event at the Ducky's restaurant/bar he co-owns. A bug may be going around as several other Rays have been ill.

Quote of the day

"It was pretty clean; I've seen a lot of popup drills the first or second day of spring look like a circus."

Rays manager Kevin Cash

Glove love

CF Kevin Kiermaier has a couple of glittery gold ones, but he was happy to see the leather on Monday's "Glove Day" at camp as several manufacturers delivered their new products. "With my current contract with Rawlings it's three gloves a year and those are my babies, those are close to my heart," he said. "It's awesome to come in here every year and seeing what you're going to work with."

Number of the day

85 Percentage of time RHP Alex Cobb now feels he has his mechanics in order, following his September return from Tommy John surgery, and able to focus on being aggressive in executing pitches.

Uber fun

INF/OF Nick Franklin would rather be known for driving in runs, but he has been getting a lot of attention since sharing last week he spent a couple of offseason nights working again as an Uber driver around his Orlando hometown: "People are like, I just read in the paper you did something this offseason, and I say, like training for baseball? and they're like, no, Uber?" On the field, Franklin has been splitting time between infield and outfield drills.

Like an internship, but better

Twenty-plus minor-leaguers started voluntary workouts in advance of their March 4 camp opening, and it will pay off for a couple who are likely to be used when the Rays open exhibition play this weekend, especially with a night game Friday in Fort Myers then a Saturday home day game. Minor-league Cs Mike Marjama and Mac James are already helping out with batting practice.

Spring things

. Though being held back, and likely out of exhibitions until mid March, as he recovers from left heel surgery, SS Matt Duffy is slowly getting to do more activities and plans to take his first BP on the field today.

. The "Golden Fungo" bat is given after each workout, at the discretion of video coordinator Chico Fernandez, to the coach who has the best day.

. Rays players have media training before this morning's workout, and the annual meeting with players union chief Tony Clark and staff Wednesday.

. Prior to Saturday's home exhibition opener, there will be a Fan Fest starting at 11 a.m.

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