PORT CHARLOTTE – The first day of live batting practice usually leaves pitchers shaking hands and hitters shaking their heads.
The Rays played right into that Monday, sending hard-throwing Ryne Stanek out to open the session against teammates who, for the most part, hadn’t faced live pitching since the end of last season, and pretty much looked like it.
“You tip your cap because you’re probably not going to do too well,’’ third baseman Matt Duffy said. “That first pitch comes in and you’re just like, (geez), take a breath. All right, we’ll get there eventually, is what you tell yourself.’’
Manager Kevin Cash said that’s pretty much the expected reaction.
“Ryne Stanek throwing 99 miles an hour, that’s kind of the thought that we had opening him for games,'' he said. “No judgments passed whatsoever. Probably more laughing than anything else.’’
Cash was pleased overall with the energy level, a focal point in designing drills to be more up tempo, in the first full squad workout. “It was good to see all the guys, it really was,’’ he said. "Awesome to put some faces and names together.''
The 20-second pitch clock MLB will phase in during spring games in prep for potential regular season implementation has been used in the minors for years, and shouldn’t be a major factor, according to several Rays pitchers who’ve been up and down. “For the most part it’s not really that big of a deal,’’ Andrew Kittredge said. “I get that a lot of guys are upset with it because it can upset your rhythm and what not, but most guys work quickly enough that it doesn’t impact them.’’ Austin Pruitt had a similar take, saying “It didn’t make any difference. You go through your routine and normally the time on the clock doesn’t affect you.’’
* Relief candidate Ian Gibaut is heading to New York to have his lat strain checked by a specialist.
* Lefty Matt Krook was added to the camp roster. Krook was acquired from the Giants in the Evan Longoria trade and pitched last season at Double-A Montgomery.
* New catcher Mike Zunino said he’ll give up some live BP at-bats the next few days to spend more time behind the plate so he can get familiarized with as many pitchers as possible.
* Principal owner Stuart Sternberg reported to camp and took in the workout.
The full-squad workout starts at 11 a.m. and lasts 2-2 ½ hours at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road), with Tyler Glasnow, Diego Castillo and Colin Poche among the pitchers throwing live batting practice. For more information: (941) 235-5025.