Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

Rays relief pitcher Ryne Stanek delivers a pitch in the second inning against the Tigers on July 10, 2018. (CHRIS URSO   |   Times)
Rays relief pitcher Ryne Stanek delivers a pitch in the second inning against the Tigers on July 10, 2018. (CHRIS URSO | Times)
Published July 17, 2018|Updated July 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The success the Rays have had during two months of using a game opener followed by a relieving starter seems to have tamed some of the criticism of the unusual plan.

Until Arizona ace Zack Greinke, a Cy Young award winner and five-time All-Star, was asked about by the Tampa Bay Times on Monday.

"It's really smart,'' Greinke said, "but it's also really bad for baseball.''

How so?

"It's just a sideshow,'' he said. "There are always ways to get a little advantage. The main problem I have with it is that you do it that way and you'll end up never paying any player what he's worth because you're not going to have guys starting, you're not going to have guys throwing (a lot of) innings.

"You just will keep shuffling guys in and out constantly so no one will ever get paid, which maybe some people like seeing. Someone is going to make the money. It's either going to be the owners or the players. And if people do it that way, the players won't make a thing.''

Because the Rays are the first team in the current economic times to employ such a plan so liberally, it's not clear yet, and may not be for several years, if there will be an impact on player compensation, especially in arbitration.

Players union chief Tony Clark said he is "very concerned" about these type of changes overall and it is something they are definitely "paying attention to.''

Commissioner talking Rays stadium

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke well of the Rays' Ybor City stadium plan during a SiriusXM Town Hall talk Sunday, then cautioned that "we're at that difficult, difficult point where the community in Tampa has to make a commitment to Major League Baseball,'' either in terms of increased attendance or "being involved somehow in the financing" of the $892 million project.

Rays’ Ramos still happy to be here

Though disappointed to be inactive due to Saturday's hamstring strain (and still not sure how long he will be out), Rays C Wilson Ramos said he was still greatly enjoying his second All-Star experience, especially since he spent seven seasons with the Nats and was something of a fan favorite.

"I'm happy, very happy, to be back here,'' he said. "There's nothing better than being in the All-Star Game in the city where you played. I'm a little sad because I will miss the game, at the same time I've very happy being in the same locker room with all those players.'' … Manager Kevin Cash was excited to be named a coach for the second straight season. AL manager A.J. Hinch joked that he picked Cash due to his experience using nine pitchers a game. …The Rays on Monday activated INF Christian Arroyo (oblique) and optioned him to Triple-A Durham.

Tampa Bay ties

Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber picked Tampa-based trainer and friend Mike Sinicola, a former Eckerd College player, to throw to him in the home run derby. "We kind of joked about it the last four years,'' Schwarber said. "He's been throwing to me down in Florida in the offseason and he's a great dude. It's well-deserved. I would have picked my dad, but he's a little bit too old.'' … Tampa's Madelyn Parker, an incoming fifth grader at Chiles Elementary who repped the Rays, finished second in the 9- to 10-year-old division of the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run softball finals held Monday afternoon. As part of the experience, Parker and the other finalists got to watch the home run derby from the bullpen.

For starters

Boston LHP Chris Sale, a Lakeland product, will be the third pitcher to start three consecutive All-Star Games, joining Hall of Famers Lefty Gomez and Robin Roberts. "It's a big honor and I know this doesn't happen very often in a long time, so I appreciate it,'' Sale said. "I'm going to try to have some fun with it, too. … With Washington RHP Max Scherzer getting the nod for the NL, it will be the first time since 1940 that the same pitchers start in two straight seasons. … Scherzer was understandably thrilled over the chance to pitch in his home park. "So many emotions,'' he said. "I can only imagine what it's going to be like to have the Nats fans here supporting all of us.'' … NL manager Dave Roberts said he considered Mets RHP Jacob deGrom, but Scherzer was the obvious choice: "It's well deserved. It's his city. It's his ballpark.''