PORT CHARLOTTE — Jake Faria is confident he’s going to pitch his way back to the big leagues and his impressive 2017 rookie form.
He’s going to have to wait to do that, however, as the Rays unexpectedly optioned the right-hander to the minors Sunday as part of an eight-player roster reduction.
Catcher Nick Ciuffo, pitcher Andrew Moore and infielder/outfielder Andrew Velazquez were also optioned, with nonroster pitchers Tyler Cloyd and Ian Gardeck and infielders Jake Cronenworth and Nick Solak reassigned as the Rays got down to 49 players, with two others, Anthony Banda and Jose De Leon, headed to the 60-day DL eventually.
Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays liked what they saw in the spring from Faria, 25, who posted a 4-4, 5.40 in an inconsistent and injury-marred 2018 season after a 5-4, 3.43 debut campaign.
But they will need to see more.
“It’s time for him to get on a routine; it’s not the easiest thing to do the routine here. And get him stretched out,” Cash said. “The message was very similar to the message when he came in (to camp): how highly we think of him, what he’s capable of. We want to do everything we can to assist him getting back to that 2017 form.
"It’s going to take some time, but he did he did show really well for us in spring training, which was encouraging.”
Faria had been optimistic that he would win a spot on the big-league staff, where he was competing with Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos, Jalen Beeks and Wilmer Font for three-four long relief/bulk roles.
Asked Sunday morning about the possibility of being sent down, he said, “Obviously I’d be disappointed just because you spend almost two years in the big leagues and then you go back to Triple A, but guys have done it. I’d still have a job, so that’s one thing. We’ll have to see. I’d be kind of bummed out. … But I know if I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll be back eventually.”