The Rays sent Bobby Seay to the mound with simple instructions Monday afternoon: Just get your work in and don't worry about impressing anybody.
So of course Seay went out and impressed everyone.
And he did it so well that he barely got enough work in.
The Rays' $3-million pitcher made his pro debut in an exhibition game against Phillies minor-leaguers and needed only 22 pitches to complete his two innings of work.
Seay did not allow a ball out of the infield, yielding one walk while striking out two. "I approached it like just another day at the yard," he said. "It wasn't anything special."
Nothing special except for the television crews, the hundred or so fans and the Devil Rays general manager in attendance.
Seay's pro debut came a day after that of Rays pitcher Matt White. Now that the two megabucks rookies have their initial outings behind them, GM Chuck LaMar hopes the hoopla can be set aside and the learning can begin.
"We don't want them performing for you or for anybody else at this stage," LaMar said. "We just want them to get their work in and continue to develop at their own pace."
Seay has begun his development at a pretty good pace. The left-hander from Sarasota threw strikes on 14 of his 22 pitches, while consistently throwing 90 to 92 mph.
"I didn't want to get too up for this," Seay said. "I just wanted to let my pitches work for me. I think I spotted the ball pretty well. This isn't like high school. I'm not expecting to go out and blow the ball by you."
ANOTHER STEP: The Rays have gone through the pitching rotation once, and the starters can begin extending their performances from two innings to three. The emphasis, however, remains on throwing fastballs and working breaking pitches in as the spring goes on.
"As an organization, we want to work everything off the fastball," pitching coordinator Jackie Brown said. "Fastballs and strikes is what we're looking for."
THE RAY WAY: At this point in the season, it's the little things that mean the most to the coaching staff. The Charleston team was safely ahead of the Phillies on Monday, but manager Scott Fletcher was impressed with the final at-bat of outfielder Alex Sanchez.
With two strikes and two outs, Sanchez choked up on the bat and drove a run-scoring triple down the rightfield line.
"He kept his head in there and found a pitch to hit," Fletcher said. "Those kind of things keep innings alive. Th beginning to know what to look for."
GAME RECAPS: The Charleston team beat the Phillies 7-0, with Seay getting the victory. Mike King went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
The St. Petersburg Rays lost 7-3 to the Blue Jays, despite an impressive outing from Jamie Ybarra, who threw two hitless innings with four strikeouts.
St. Petersburg tentatively is scheduled to play at the Yankees complex today, with Charleston going to the Busch Complex to play the Cardinals. The Rays may swap the two squads, though.
MISCELLANY: Rays farm director Tom Foley said Cuban first baseman Roberto Colina should play in a game in the next few days. Colina has been working out at Huggins-Stengel since signing a contract last week. Outfielder Paul Wilder could also end up in a lineup in the next few days, Fletcher said. Wilder has been held out with a groin strain.
Did you know?
The usual route is for a player to go from college to pro ball. Rays catcher Michael McGehee went from pro to college and back. McGehee signed with the Cubs out of high school in 1994 and spent a season in a rookie league before injuring his knee, falling out of favor with management and being released. Through an appeal, McGehee was granted two years of eligibility in junior college and enrolled at a school in Arizona where he could rehab his knee. "There's a huge difference going from pro ball back to college," McGehee said. "And it's not fun thinking you have to prove yourself again." McGehee had spent less than a year in school when the Rays offered him a job with the Butte, Mont., team last summer. "They called me at 9 a.m. and asked if I could be on a flight by 6," McGehee said. "I said, "Let me make a few phone calls, pack a bag and I'm outta here.' "