Rays journal: Blake Snell has a good day after an interesting night

Newly rich lefty says he’s ready for Thursday’s opener; while the practice field dedicated to honor Jim Hoff.
Blake Snell said he felt ready after throwing 75 pitches in a minor-league game Friday. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Blake Snell said he felt ready after throwing 75 pitches in a minor-league game Friday. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Published March 22

PORT CHARLOTTE — Blake Snell’s first night as a mega-millionaire didn’t go all that swell.

With his phone blowing up with so many messages of congrats for his five-year, $50 million contract he said he threw it in the trash. (He was kidding, we think.)

Exhausted from four days of intense negotiations, a trip to St. Petersburg for a morning physical and an afternoon announcement, he went back to his spring rental Thursday and, somehow, as only the 26-year-old lefty could, “went to bed too early" and “stayed up too late." (He was serious, we think.)

So how does one do both in the same night?

“I went to bed when I got home around 7, (slept) ‘til like 9," Snell explained. “Then I stayed up ‘til 3 and I couldn’t fall asleep. I was in bed rolling around like, 'This is ridiculous.’ I didn’t want to go to a store and get sleeping pills so I just stayed up and I sat there looking at the ceiling like, 'This is pretty cool.’ That was my night. Then I came in here (to the complex) at 7 a.m. and was really tired. I’m like, you’re really doing it Blake."

The rest of his Friday went much better as he tuned up for Thursday’s season opener against the Astros by throwing 75 pitches in a minor-league game, the controlled environment insuring he got through five innings. With eight lefties hitting for the Twins Double-A squad, Snell worked a lot on his changeup and curveball, allowing a walk and a hit while striking out eight.

More significantly, the 2018 Cy Young award winner said he was ready for 2019.

“I’m very happy with where I’m at, what I accomplished this spring from where I started to where I am now," he said. “It’s very exciting."

Game details

The Rays (12-14-2) wrapped the Port Charlotte portion of the spring with a 3-2 win over the Pirates. … Brandon Lowe upped his spring average to .391 with two hits, Avisail Garcia had three. … Cash was impressed with the defense, noting the play of Willy Adames at short, Yandy Diaz at third, Lowe at first. Also, a classic running catch in center by Kevin Kiermaier. “I told him it’s about time," Cash said. “We’ve been waiting to see that.”

Fitting tribute

The Rays dedicated the half-field at the spring complex in honor of Jim Hoff, the longtime minor-league coach who died unexpectedly in December. Hoff’s sons, Matt and Brian, attended the brief ceremony as did much of the team staff. “This was pretty much his home," Matt said. “To have a field named after my dad, I can’t describe what that means."

The half-field at the Port Charlotte complex now has the name of the former coordinator who worked with so many players there. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
The half-field at the Port Charlotte complex now has the name of the former coordinator who worked with so many players there. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]

Spring things

* After playing in a game Thursday for the first time since Feb. 28 (and second of the spring), Duffy tested his left hamstring and his timing by getting nine at-bats in two minor-league games. He called it a “good step forward” but that a bigger test will be seeing how he feels playing again Saturday in Lakeland.

* Players met for two-plus hours with union chief Tony Clark and other execs on their annual tour. After criticizing the Rays last week for initially giving Snell only a small raise, Clark said of his new contract: “I’m glad that Blake, who is one of the best pitchers in the game, was able to find common ground on an extension he was comfortable with."

* Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon threw their final live batting practices, now will take a nine-day break in their Tommy John rehab and likely join extended spring training before beginning rehab assignments.

* The Rays drew 66,998 for 16 home games in Port Charlotte, averaging 4,187.

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