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Rays journal: 8-year-old delivers special first pitch

Hailey Dawson, born with an underdeveloped right hand, has visited 26 big-league ball parks this season

ST. PETERSBURG — When she begins third grade Monday at Lamping Elementary School in Henderson, Nev., Hailey Dawson's a cinch to steal the show-and-tell.

An 8-year-old born without the three middle fingers on her right hand and an underdeveloped pectoral muscle, Hailey already has traveled to more than two dozen big-league ballparks since the season began. She plans to hit all 30 to raise awareness for her birth deficiency (Poland Syndrome) and the prosthetic hands developed for her.

Brandishing a blue 3-D printed hand with the Rays logo, she threw out the first pitch before the game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field (her 26th park), and she is set to do the same Friday night at Marlins Park in Miami.

"It's (operated by) wrist movement," said Hailey's mom, Yong Dawson. "So basically when she moves her wrist down, her fingers close. When she moves it up, they open."

A straight-A student, Hailey has a prosthesis for each major-league club whose home park she has visited. Her first 3-D hand, acquired at age 4, was made by students and faculty members at UNLV's Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering.

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While a national airline is footing the Dawsons' flight bills this summer, Yong said she and her husband, Greg, a sergeant with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, are handling the other travel expenses themselves. On Thursday, Hailey was accompanied by her mom and 13-year-old brother, Zach.

"My husband works a lot of overtime right now," Yong said.
All to let the public know such devices are readily available.

"A lot of people don't realize that there's so many organizations that will make these for people," said Yong, a photographer. "They just have to ask."

Stretching Snell

After his four-inning, 59-pitch stint in Saturday's 2-1 loss to the White Sox, Rays All-Star LHP Blake Snell ideally expects to have his pitch count stretched to 75 against the Blue Jays on Friday in Toronto.

In his first start since coming off the 10-day disabled list (shoulder fatigue), Snell threw only 34 pitches for strikes against the Sox, but allowed only one run (a Jose Abreu homer).
It was his 12th consecutive home start in which he yielded no more than one earned run, tied for the longest such streak in the majors since 1913 (when earned runs officially were kept in both leagues), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"We've been very guarded with (new acquisition) Tyler Glasnow in how he's built up," manager Kevin Cash said. "But Blake has the innings under his belt this year, so I think it's fair that he can probably add some more pitches, maybe another (inning) in there, maybe two more innings.

"We'll just see how the game goes and how efficient he is in each inning he pitches."

Nuno getting close?

LHP Vidal Nuno took another positive step in his recovery from a nagging hamstring ailment, throwing a 20-pitch bullpen session.

"Follow-through and everything was great," said Nuno, out since early July. "I'm in the three-digit percentage now."

Nuno said the plan is to take Friday off, toss another bullpen Saturday, face live hitting two days later, then perhaps make a rehab appearance at some point next week. He's hopeful of being available during the club's next homestand beginning Aug. 20 against the Royals.

Medical matters

Newly acquired OF Tommy Pham, on the 10-day DL with a fractured foot, took batting practice off a pitching machine. Pham officially can come off the DL on Monday, but isn't expected to join the team on its nine-game road swing starting Friday. "We look at that as being a good thing," Cash said. "Maybe he's a little closer than we anticipated, so we keep him here and if there's a (rehab) game here in the near future for him to get in, we can do that." … RHP Jake Faria, nagged recently by a sore neck, threw a bullpen and proclaimed he's "good to go." Cash echoed that sentiment.

Odds and ends

Thursday's victory marked the fifth consecutive game in which the Rays (58-57) won a game to avoid falling under .500. … Yonny Chirinos became the 22nd different Rays pitcher to record a win this year, most in the majors and two ahead of the Dodgers and Marlins. … Fortunately for the Rays, they don't have to see Orioles rookie CF Joey Rickard again for a month. Rickard is batting .462 (12-for-26) with three home runs, three doubles, a triple and 15 RBIs against Tampa Bay this season. His two-run triple highlighted Baltimore's three-run second inning Thursday.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.