PORT CHARLOTTE -- Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow spent the offseason tinkering with a pause in his delivery that he hopes will help him keep opposing hitters off balance while polishing his mechanics.
Glasnow’s first game-action experiment with the new delivery came Sunday, when he made his first Grapefruit League start of the season. His outing was a 28-pitch, 1 2/3-inning performance in the Rays’ 8-5 loss to the New York Yankees that showed flashes of dominance but also left plenty of room to grow this spring with his execution.
While the hard-throwing Glasnow lit up the stadium radar gun with 97-98 mph fastballs Sunday, he struggled getting a feel for his breaking ball -- he also allowed two runs on three hits and two wild pitches -- but the main goal of his spring debut was getting comfortable with his new delivery.
Glasnow said he’s making the adjustment in part to help keep his mechanics sound given his lean 6-foot-8 frame involves lots of moving parts. Feeling completely comfortable with the delivery is a process, and while his pitching line Sunday wasn’t particularly impressive, he was pleased with how his delivery felt for the first time in a game.
“I think today was very encouraging with how comfortable it was with the first time I had done it,” Glasnow said. “I did it in BPs and bullpens and stuff, but once you get out there, you don’t know how its going to go. But it probably felt more comfortable today than most of my bullpens. It was nice to get back into that go-and-compete mode again.”
The pause is a unique one. Glasnow extends his landing leg straight and makes a subtle stop before stepping toward the plate. He hopes to combine that deliberate motion with his quick step.
Against a Yankees travel squad that included just two legitimate starters -- second baseman DJ LeMahieu and first baseman Luke Voit -- Glasnow’s stuff dominated. He recorded four of his five outs on strikeouts.
“It’s unbelievable,” catcher Mike Zunino said of Glasnow’s stuff. “You just look at him being as big as he is. but he’s a heck of an athlete and the stuff he has on top of it. There’s some deception, the stuff is outright nasty, so when you put those two together he’s really got a lot of stuff going for him.”
Still, Glasnow fell behind three batters into the game following an opposite-field double by Tyler Wade and Voit RBI single. Then, after allowing an Estevan Florial leadoff single, Florial stole second, before Glasnow threw a pair of wild pitch breaking balls that allowed Florial to score.
“I think with obviously (the) pitch execution, there were times (it could be better), passed ball, passed ball and (a run) scored -- no excuses by any means, but it’s early,” Glasnow said. “The spin did feel good, just have to make sure I incorporate it more so in the strike zone, especially early in counts, but overall it felt pretty good.”
With his first spring outing behind him, Glasnow said he's eager to start incorporating his quick step with the bases empty to see how it can throw hitters off.
"That's what I was looking forward to, especially coming in facing hitters and stuff," Glasnow said. "I think as far as if I can incorporate the quick step and that when there's no one on, it can help me with messing up guys' timing, but as far as the decision to do it, it was all comfort based for me. I got what i got out of it today and I'm looking forward to seeing how the hitters react to it as the season goes on."
Said Zunino: “The first time facing some guys with other jerseys, there’s some adrenaline going. But he was extremely composed. He mixed his stuff really well and think if he can just fill the strike zone up, he’s going to be really successful.”
After hitting just two homers in their first two Grapefruit League games, the Rays hit four in Sunday’s loss. The power display was aided by wind blowing out to left at Charlotte Sports Park. ... The surge included three homers in the fifth inning. Willy Adames and Mike Zunino hit back-to-back solo blasts off Yankees right-hander Trevor Stephan and three batters later, Austin Meadows connected on a blast off the center-field batter’s eye. ... Rays primary opener Ryan Stanek made his spring debut in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game and allowed a three-run homer to Voit. Stanek issued a one-out walk to LaMahieu and yielded a Wade single before Voit’s blast to left. ... Right-hander Yonny Chirinos struggled when he entered mid-inning for Glasnow, allowing hits to the first three batters he faced. ... On his 29th birthday, center fielder Jason Coats hit his second spring home run, a two-run shot in the sixth. Coats also homered in the spring opener on Friday.
Kevin Kiermaier missed Sunday's Grapefruit League game with a blister on his right heel that could keep him out for the next few days. Manager Kevin Cash said the blister was caused by Kiermaier breaking in a new pair of cleats, but said it got to the point where Kiermaier threw barefoot on Saturday.
LeMahieu, a former NL batting champ and and three-time Gold Glove winner with Colorado, said he gave “serious thought” to signing with the Rays, but instead decided to sign a two-year, $24-million deal with the Yankees. "They had interest, along with a few other teams,'' LeMahieu said. "Absolutely, some serious thought. They have a lot of good things going on over there.''
Making their only spring training trip to the gulf coast -- a two-game trip to Bradenton and Port Charlotte -- the Marlins play the Rays on Monday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park. The team’s travel party played against the Pirates at Bradenton on Sunday afternoon. Heralded Cuban prospect Victor Victor Mesa won’t play after suffering a hamstring strain against the Pirates.
Quote of the day:
"I felt like I hit it pretty well. I'm not sure if it was wind-aided or not, but if it was cool, if it wasn't, it's cool. It's still a home run."
-- Meadows on hitting his first home run of spring. He has extra-base hits in both of his spring games.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.