Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays waiting for everything to click for rookie Snell

ST. PETERSBURG — Rookie LHP Blake Snell has now made five starts for the Rays but has yet to have one in which everything has gone right.

Saturday, he made only small mistakes, but they led to three runs and, with his teammates shut down by Detroit's Justin Verlander, a 3-2 loss.

In the second, Snell walked two of the first four batters then gave up a two-out RBI single to No. 9 hitter Jose Iglesias. In the fourth, right after the Rays tied it at 1, Snell gave the run right back, allowing a leadoff homer to Ian Kinsler. And in the fifth, Snell gave up a leadoff double to Justin Upton then threw a wild pitch (or at least a bounced pitch) that allowed Upton to advance to third and score on a sac fly.

"We've still yet to have seen the best of Blake," manager Kevin Cash said. "He's given us a chance to win, there's no doubt. But the way we're playing right now, it's tough to overcome some of those runs."

"I would agree," Snell said. "I think there is a lot more I have to offer. … I've got to pound the zone. That's something I really need to work on."

GAME STUFF: The Rays were held to five hits, four singles. … RHP Ryan Garton, who allowed four straight hits in Thursday's meltdown, gave up a single to his first batter but nothing else over 12/3 innings. … Snell had gone 241/3 innings before allowing his first career homer.

JONNY BE HURT: LHP Jonny Venters' longshot bid to make a comeback from a third Tommy John elbow surgery has ended in a cruel way, as he again tore the ulnar collateral ligament.

Venters, 31, was pitching with advanced Class A Charlotte in hopes of joining the Rays later this summer when he sustained the latest injury June 20. Agent BB Abbott said Venters, a former All-Star with the Braves, is deciding whether to retire or try another comeback.

INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE: The Rays inked two teenage Venezuelan outfielders on the first day of the international signing period, adding Diego Infante, whom Baseball America rated No. 18 overall in the pool and the third-best outfielder, and Roimer Bolivar, rated No. 31 overall. Infante got $300,000, Bolivar $280,000. The Rays are limited to $300,000 per player as a penalty for previously exceeding their international bonus pool limit.

FRANKLY, NICK: INF/OF Taylor Motter was sent down to make room for OF Steven Souza Jr. because the Rays preferred to keep INF Nick Franklin, a switch-hitter who has increased his value by playing the outfield. "The way he has kind of taken to the outfield, we have an option with that," Cash said. "We like the switch-hitting versatility, too. So that was kind of the deciding factor."

Franklin was also trying on catcher's gear and said he is prepared to serve as the third catcher as well, having been behind the plate in high school.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Desmond Jennings remained sidelined due to the tight left hamstring that forced him from Thursday's game; Cash said there had been "progress" but no timetable for a return. … The Rays will decide after a bullpen session today whether RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) starts a rehab assignment this week or throws another live batting practice. … RHP Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) also will throw today; RHP Alex Colome (biceps tendinitis) is hoping to, eyeing a midweek return.

MISCELLANY: Souza rejoined the lineup, going 1-for-3 and getting picked off 1B after missing 17 games (14 losses) with a hip strain. … OF Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch for the 16th time this season and 51st overall, trying Carlos Peña's team record. … LHP Xavier Cedeno had 12 family members at the game, all wearing T-shirts that read: KEEP CALM / WE ARE CEDENO'S FAMILY. … Model Kate Upton, the fiancee of Tigers starter Justin Verlander, was in the stands.

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