Rays remain confident in Austin Pruitt despite rough debut

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Published April 3 2017
Updated April 3 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — It's not often a relief pitcher faces three batters, makes his pitches and leaves with the bases loaded. But that was what happened to Rays RHP Austin Pruitt, who made his major-league debut Sunday in the ninth inning of the 7-3 victory against the Yankees.

"It just didn't go his way," manager Kevin Cash said. "We're going to get him out there as soon as possible. We know he's going to get a lot of big outs for us this year."

Pruitt said he appreciated the support of his manager. "I had some tough luck, but it's nice to hear the manager say that," he said.

Pruitt allowed an opposite-field single to 3B Chase Headley, who beat the shift with a soft grounder to the left side. 3B Evan Longoria made an error on RF Aaron Judge's grounder, and LF Aaron Hicks hit a line drive off the top of the glove of a leaping SS Tim Beckham.

RHP Alex Colome came on and allowed a sacrifice fly. The run was charged to Pruitt, whose first day in the big leagues produced an ERA of infinity.

"That part kind of" stunk, Pruitt said. "But it is what it is, and Colome did an awesome job cleaning up my mess."

FIND YOURSELF in this Gigapan photo of Tropicana Field on Rays opening day.

Sternberg 'very optimistic'

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said before the game that talks for a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area continue to move forward, with hopes to identify a site by year's end. "The process I and others and everybody I think would like to move along quicker, but it's moving along steadily, which is most important," he said. "The slope is up. I'm very optimistic we're going to come up with a solution, and something that is going to be a generational type of facility." He reiterated his "only focus" is finding a new stadium in this market. … Acknowledging the significance of this being the Rays' 20th season, Sternberg said team officials decided to instead celebrate the 20th anniversary in 2018. The team will wear a uniform patch. … Sternberg said he was pleased with the look and feel of the new Shaw Sports Turf they spent $1 million to install to replace the AstroTurf surface: "I love it. … The other one was nothing short of a disaster by the end."

OUR OPENING DAY GIF TO YOU: Check out this page of animated Rays

Maile let go

The Rays opened the final spot they needed on the 40-man roster by designating for assignment C Luke Maile, who went from competing for a spot on the big-league roster to out of a job due to the signing of Derek Norris. The Rays felt Maile was more expendable, or had a better chance of getting through waivers, than Curt Casali, who was sent to Triple A.

Mechanical problems

First pitch was delayed three minutes when the umpires checked on the Yankees replay review that wasn't working. As a result, both teams were allowed unlimited crew chief reviews.

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