PORT CHARLOTTE – First base prospect Nate Lowe left a good impression, including a dent on the roof of a building from a monstrous home run, during his time in big-league camp.
Now how he does at Durham will determine when he joins the Rays during the regular season.
Lowe was one of nine players sent down Saturday as the Rays trimmed their spring roster to 40, still 15 above the March 28 opening day limit.
“I told him he probably is going to be the one that ultimately drives the decision" on when he gets called up,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He came on so strong last year (rising from Class A to Double-A to Triple-A). He did some good things (this spring). Obviously we saw enough of the power to really appreciate how far he can hit a baseball. Asked him to go down there and continue his work, and value the defense as much as he does the offense. We know once guys get up here it’s really important.’’
Also sent out was lefty reliever Colin Poche, who posted dazzling strikeout numbers in the minors last season but had a rough camp, acknowledging he put too much pressure on himself.
“He was very honest in that he scuffled early on with the strike-throwing and command, threw some pitches in sequences that maybe he wouldn’t,’’ Cash said. “But talking to him, he took it as a learning experience. That’s going to happen at the big-league level at some point. If it happens in spring training and you learn from it, you’re better equipped when your opportunity comes at the big-league level during the season, we’re probably better for it.’’
The Rays also optioned out pitcher Austin Pruitt and reassigned pitchers Mike Franco, Ryan Merritt, Ricardo Pinto, Luis Santos; catcher Anthony Bemboom (who has a thumb sprain); infielder Michael Brosseau.
Merritt and Poche will still pitch as scheduled on Sunday against the Red Sox and ex-Ray David Price.
Snell makes most of rainy day
For a day that included throwing 17 pitches in a back fields minor-league game in a light rain then being forced to the mound in the covered batting cage to get the rest of his work in, Cy Young award winner Blake Snell got a lot done in his second to last tune-up for his opening day start. He threw 50-plus pitches over 4 2/3 innings, used all of his pitches and said his stuff was sharp. “Everything was good, I was very happy with everything,’’ he said. “Fastball was jumping, I was very happy with that, and all the off-speed was where I want it to be, if not better. I’m very happy where I’m at.’’ He will throw again Friday against the Pirates.
* Saturday’s game against the Twins was cancelled shortly after scheduled first pitch due to rain; tickets can be exchanged for another spring game or applied toward a regular season game, see raysbaseball.com or call tollfree 1 888-326-7297 for info.
* Third baseman Matt Duffy said his left hamstring felt good after running arcs (on the grass behind the infield) at about 80 percent, and is planning to take swings Sunday in live BP and take ground balls. He remains optimistic of being ready for opener.
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* Tommy Pham felt “really good” after throwing Saturday morning and is slated to return to the outfield Monday after two-plus weeks of DH-ing while strengthening his shoulder.
* Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough, who were scheduled to pitch against the Twins, also got their work done against hitters in the cage.
Quote of the day
“I’m from Seattle, it can’t bother me.’’
- Blake Snell, on pitching in the rain.