Rays Journal: What shortstop Willy Adames doesn’t want you to know about him

Adames flexes muscle with a long homer in 5-5 tie, Snell-Verlander matchup set for opening day, more
Rays shortstop Willy Adames hit seven of his 10 homeruns in 2018 at Tropicana Field, but downplayed his power on Friday, crediting the wind for a shot that sailed more than 400 feet. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
Rays shortstop Willy Adames hit seven of his 10 homeruns in 2018 at Tropicana Field, but downplayed his power on Friday, crediting the wind for a shot that sailed more than 400 feet. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published March 8

FORT MYERS – Rays shortstop Willy Adames is known for his ebullient personality and impressive all around skills.

That includes not coming up short on hitting the long ball.

Adames flexed that muscle again Friday with a two-run blast in the fourth inning of the 5-5 tie with the Twins, the ball carrying to the very top of the berm well beyond the leftfield fence.

“He’s got a lot of power,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s got power to all fields – dead-center power, right-center power. I think we’re going to see that more. I know he’s put on weight, muscle, this off-season. There’s a lot of people that watch him hit and think that he’s capable of doing some damage in hitting his share of home runs.’’

Adames hit 10 homers in 85 games for the Rays last season, but Friday he was downplaying his might.

“Sometimes, not every time,’’ Adames said. “I don’t have power, it’s just the wind. The wind has helped me a lot.’’

Reminded there is no wind at the Trop, where he hit seven of his homers, including a 434-foot walkoff blast, Adames joked: “I don’t know what to say about that, maybe I was hanging out too much with (ex-Ray) Carlos Gomez.’’

Game details

Adames, first baseman/DH Ji-Man Choi and non-roster outfielder Jake Smolinski homered for the 6-8-1 Rays. … Jake Faria wasn’t as sharp as earlier in the spring, allowing five hits (three on ground balls) and two runs over two innings, throwing 50 pitches (34 strikes) to 11 batters. Faria said he was “not that really upset about it at all,’’ saying he was mad about one pitch. Cash said he “just lost command a little bit there, couldn’t find the zone.’’ … Hunter Wood, an opener candidate, looked “really sharp’’ over his two scoreless innings after incorporating some suggestions from pitching coach Kyle Snyder, Cash said, and also praised lefty Adam Kolarek. … Outfielder Avisail Garcia hit several balls hard. … The Twins got two runs on an odd play in the fifth, when centerfielder Emilio Bonifacio was ruled to have not caught a ball it appeared he did, allowing a four-base error for Jonathan Schoop.

Cy openers

The expected marquee matchup is set for March 28 opening day, with Houston naming Cy Young runner-up Justin Verlander to face Rays winner Blake Snell. “It should be a great matchup,’’ Verlander told reporters at Astros camp. “I don’t think too often you get No. 1 and No. 2 going at each other on Opening Day. I’m looking forward to it.’’ Verlander is right that it’s rare; only twice previously, both in 1979: Yankees winner Ron Guidry faced Milwaukee’s Mike Caldwell, Padres winner Gaylord Perry faced Dodger Burt Hooton. It could happen twice this year though, as the Mets and winner Jacob de Grom open against the Nationals and runner-up Max Scherzer.

Spring things

* The first wave of cuts, which are mostly reassignments and options, are coming this weekend; Cash said it will be “fairly large” reduction as they need to start focusing on the guys who will or could be part of the big-league team.

* Third baseman Matt Duffy passed all tests with his previously sore left hamstring and is set to return to the lineup Saturday. Cash said once Duffy gets a couple games at third they will give him some outfield time, as was the plan coming in to spring.

* Lefty Ryan Yarbrough came through a Thursday bullpen session with no issues from his previously tight groin and will return to the mound.

* Snell will make his next start Monday in Clearwater against the Phillies, who plan to have Bryce Harper in the lineup making his first start in rightfield. Rather than face the Jays in Dunedin Tuesday, Charlie Morton will throw a simulated game in Port Charlotte.

* The Rays wives beat the Twins wives 6-4 in their annual charity softball game, and as expected one of the stars was Brandon Lowe’s wife, Madison, who played four years at Maryland. Reliever Emilio Pagan pitched to the Rays hitters.

Quote of the day

“I’ve had to catch her a few times, and it’s not fun.’’

- Brandon Lowe, on wife Madison, who pitched at Maryland.