PORT CHARLOTTE – Intermittent rain and wet fields forced the Rays to do most of their opening day of camp work under cover of the enclosed batting cages Wednesday, but didn’t dampen the enthusiasm or first impressions.
“Just excitement,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “I think the guys were champing at the bit to get off the mound. It was a little more organized structure just given the timing of everything. You’ve got to be excited about seeing some of the young arms throw and some of the guys we saw last year.’’
Cash noted the crisp work of Yonny Chirinos, who had a bit of an inconsistent big-league debut season in 2018, and Jake Faria, who had a rough one. Wednesday’s bullpen sessions also afforded Cash his first look at lefty reliever Colin Poche, who posted dazzling numbers at Double- and Triple-A, and he liked what he saw.
“It actually worked fine,’’ Cash said. “It’s always fun to get in the cage and hear the bullpen (sessions) because they all sound a little bit louder. If your guy is throwing 90 it sounds like he’s throwing 98. So everybody should feel really good after that session.’'
Though happy to be able to get his work in, opener/reliever Ryne Stanek said throwing on the mounds in the covered batting cages that are draped with nets is not the most comfortable feeling. “Not a big fan of throwing in the cage, it feels like your trapped,’’ he said. “Personally, I feel like the plate seems really far away. But other than that, whatever. It’s normal, it’s something you’ve got to do. Being in Florida, it rains a lot, so you’ve to be able to adjust on a fly.’’
* Pitchers are on varied throwing schedules; the only one being held back is veteran reliever Chaz Roe, who is expected to miss two-three days after being sick and tweaking his back.
* The first full-squad workout isn’t until Monday, but 58 of the 66 Rays are already in camp. That’s the 41 pitchers and catchers, plus 17 of the 25 position players. Those who have not yet checked in: DH Ji-Man Choi; infielders Yandy Diaz, Lucius Fox, Brandon Lowe, Daniel Robertson; outfielders Kevin Kiermaier, Tommy Pham, Jesus Sanchez.
* First-base prospect Nate Lowe is enjoying the excitement of being in the clubhouse for major-league camp after spending parts of the last two seasons there with the Class A Stone Crabs in relative solitude. “This is how it’s supposed to be,’’ he said.
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Rays rank among MLB organizations in terms of overall talent in the farm system, per Baseball America. The Padres were first.
The workout for pitchers and catchers starts at 11 a.m. and lasts about two hours at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road). For information: (941) 235-5025.