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Rays count on Enny Romero to emerge in bullpen

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Enny Romero (45) stretches during the first official workout for pitchers and catchers at the Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training facility at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Published Feb. 24, 2016

PORT CHARLOTTE — LHP Enny Romero showed flashes during five stints with the Rays last season of being a potentially impactful reliever.

Manager Kevin Cash likes what he is seeing now even better.

"Probably the highlight of my day was watching Enny Romero throw," Cash said after Tuesday's third workout of the spring. "Just pumping strikes. We all know Enny's stuff is high octane. Really big fastball, big cutter/slider, whatever you want to call it.

"It's all about pounding the strike zone, and he did that" Tuesday.

Romero, 25, has the physical tools to replace Jake McGee, who was traded to Colorado for OF/DH Corey Dickerson. He is penciled in for a spot in the pen since he is out of options and would have to be exposed to waivers before being sent to the minors.

Romero said he did everything he could during the offseason to take full advantage, dropping 15 pounds and working out at the Rays academy in the Dominican Republic three days a week after spending 1½ months pitching winter ball.

He also smoothed out a potential pitch-tipping flaw in his delivery after getting advice from Ps Rafael Soriano and Jose Veras, who were Escogido teammates.

"I need to work hard," Romero said. "Now is my opportunity to make the team."

SNELL GAME: Cash also was impressed after getting his first look at LHP Blake Snell, the team's top pitching prospect. "He kinda came as advertised," Cash said. "He showed command of four really good pitches (fastball, changeup, curve, slider). It's just a bullpen (session), but it was exciting to see."

Snell, a Seattle-area resident throwing outside for just the third time of the offseason, said he was comfortable on the mound: "It felt good to let it go."

PFP PATROL: Cash said the mundane early camp focus on PFP — pitcher fielding practice — is a precursor to a more intense program to address an area of concern. "It was an issue," Cash said. "When a ball is hit less than 60 feet, it's our job to get an out, and we need to convert those more than we did."

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Mayo Acosta and 1B/DH/OF Logan Morrison were sent home sick with fevers and missed the workout. … OF Steven Souza Jr. said the intercostal muscle he strained Sunday is feeling better, but he has no date to return to action.

FAN FESTIVUS: The Rays released some more details about Saturday's FanFest, set for 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Tropicana Field, with free parking and admission: RHP Alex Cobb, LHP Matt Moore, C Curt Casali and INF Richie Shaffer will participate in the "Phone-A-Friend" activity from 1-3, Cash will be among those conducting a q-and-a session and several players will take part in the Reading with the Rays and social media zone areas.

MISCELLANY: OF Desmond Jennings and non-roster INF Juniel Querecuto are the only position players who have not reported in advance of Friday's first full-squad workout. … The Rays are still waiting for MLB to make official a planned March 20-22 exhibition trip to Cuba. … Cash, baseball operations president Matt Silverman and other team execs are again holding introductory meetings with each player.

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