Rays journal: Blake Snell says he'll have no trouble with early Patriots' Day start

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the dugout during the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, April 6, 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the dugout during the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, April 6, 2017.
Published April 17, 2017

BOSTON — The key to the Rays' preparation to play today's 11:05 a.m. matinee at Fenway Park took place — presumably — Sunday night when they remembered to set early alarms.

For most players, the plan is to get up by 7, packed by 7:30 and checked out of the hotel and on the team bus by 8 for what is earlier than a spring training schedule.

"You adjust," manager Kevin Cash said.

Starting LHP Blake Snell said it won't be a problem for him as he usually needs only 2-2½ hours to get ready, with plans to show up at 9 for what will be his first ever start at Fenway. He has the experience of pitching nearly a dozen minor-league games that started at 11 or earlier.

"I've been waking up around 8:30 every day, so it won't be a huge adjustment," he said. "And I'm excited for it. I see so much action going on in the city and so much happening, it's going to be cool to be a part of it."

While it could seem like a challenge for a 24-year-old, pitching coach Jim Hickey said Snell can adjust to the early start better than a veteran. "He'll jump out of bed and get in his uniform," Hickey said. "It's not like he's some 38-year-old who has to sit in the hot tub and do all kinds of things to get ready."

3B Evan Longoria said he is excited for another Patriots' Day experience, the Rays' fourth in eight years.

"It's just a cool day overall," he said. "You can kind of feel the energy in the city when you wake up. It's different. It's really the only game you'll ever play that early, and there's only one a year. It's a cool experience. The people are excited. They're out there drinking at 8 o'clock in the morning, so it always tends to be a pretty rowdy crowd."

Cobb's lesson in 'bad geometry'

RHP Alex Cobb was on the wrong end Sunday of what former manager Joe Maddon used to call "bad geometry" — when the shifting the Rays do seems to conspire against them, with fielders in the wrong spot and balls rolling through areas that are typically attended. Of the 11 hits Cobb allowed, arguably four were shift-beaters and another was a blooper over first base. "Very unfortunate," manager Kevin Cash said. "Early on in the first inning there weren't a ton of hard-hit balls, and before you could blink an eye they had guys all over the bases." Cobb was diplomatic about the defensive alignments, calling it "a weird" game, noting how the Sox were "good at handling the bat" and that "things out of my control were kind of happening." And he took blame on himself for not working more than five innings (having thrown 93 pitches), again lacking an effective changeup and as a result having no strikeouts and only three swing-and-misses on curveballs. "It all comes back to me not being able to get strikeouts," he said. "You've got to have times in the game where you can rely on that swing-and-miss, and I just didn't have that today."

Special Ks

. The Rays struck out 14 times overall, including their first seven outs, the eighth time in 13 games they've had at least 10Ks.

. Rays hitters lead the majors with 139 strikeouts and have nine players with 10 or more. Going into play Sunday, 15 teams had none in double digits.

. Boston's Mookie Betts has now gone an amazing 119 regular-season plate appearances without a strikeout, dating to Sept. 12, 2016.

Quote of the day

"I'll be a morning person (today)."

Rays LHP Blake Snell, on today's 11:05 a.m. Patriots' Day start.

He'll be there for you

RHP Chase Whitley got word about an hour before his scheduled Saturday night start for Triple-A Durham that he was being scratched then called up to join the Rays, replacing injured RHP Jake Odorizzi. At the time, Whitley was sitting on a couch in the Bulls clubhouse doing what he likes to do best before a game — watching Friends. "I love that show, man," Whitley said of the popular 1994-2004 sitcom, with Chandler (portrayed by Matthew Perry) his favorite character. Whitley, cut in the final week of spring, has value in the versatility to start and pitch in different relief roles, which will help the Rays deal with a weary bullpen. There is no official word, but the most likely scenario would be for Whitley to stay in the pen while RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who worked four impressive innings Saturday, takes Odorizzi's next two turns in the rotation. Manager Kevin Cash said Ramirez is "one of the leading candidates to slot in there." Odorizzi said there was "no update" and that he felt good and expects to return when eligible April 26.


. Top RHP prospect Brent Honeywell was promoted from Double to Triple A, taking the place of RHP Taylor Guerrieri, who was placed on the DL awaiting further evaluation of his elbow injury. Honeywell will make his first start for Durham on Wednesday.

. 3B Evan Longoria asked for a day off his feet as the DH, and he and manager Kevin Cash discussed and decided on Sunday. Longoria was 0-for-4, leaving four runners on.