Advertisement
  1. Rays

Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. injured, questions 'muddy' field conditions in Oakland

Steven Souza Jr. slides awkwardly into second as he’s tagged out by the A’s Marcus Semien. “I don’t know how it got real muddy out there, but it was not okay,” Souza says of the field conditions.
Steven Souza Jr. slides awkwardly into second as he’s tagged out by the A’s Marcus Semien. “I don’t know how it got real muddy out there, but it was not okay,” Souza says of the field conditions.
Published Jul. 20, 2017

OAKLAND, Calif. — There hasn't been any significant rain for weeks in northern California, but Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. blamed a curiously "extremely muddy" infield for the left hip strain he sustained Wednesday sliding into second that he hopes is more scary than serious.

"I don't know how it got real muddy out there, but it was not okay," he said. "I've never actually slid into a major-league base like that and stuck and felt like I was going deeper in the ground."

Souza had drawn a game-opening walk and was breaking on a 3-2 pitch when he slid awkwardly short of second and jarred his left hip, upon which he had surgery in September and spent the offseason recovering and rehabbing from.

So that added to his concern when he felt sharp pain — "It's very scary" — and needed assistance walking off the field. But he felt progressively better as the afternoon went on and with X-rays negative, he and the Rays are feeling good that further testing won't show any damage and he will be back in the lineup Friday.

RELATED: 2008 playoff thoughts in bloom for Rays.

"I'm praying it's nothing, I don't think it's anything," Souza said. "So I get an MRI (today) and make sure it's nothing."

Any extended absence would be costly as Souza is among the Rays leaders with a .271 average, 20 homers, 60 RBIs, .883 OPS. Plus, they don't have an obvious in-house replacement as a right-handed hitting outfielder.

More chances for Snell

LHP Blake Snell remained resolute after his latest unsatisfactory and abbreviated four-inning outing Tuesday that he will figure out how to be successful: "I can do it. I know I can. I'm just going to keep fighting. I'm going to beat it."

And the Rays are going to give him the opportunity. "He's going to make his next start, and he's going to pitch well," manager Kevin Cash said.

Cash has been impressed that Snell, 24, has "really owned" some of his struggles and knows what he needs to do: "I have confidence he's going to get it figured out."

How?

"He's just got to get out of his own way — there's nothing holding him back but himself," pitching coach Jim Hickey said.

"Obviously he has the ability to retire major-league hitters, but he's just got to do it in a more consistent basis. Which is not unusual for a young guy, however, when you're talking about 30 starts, you're no longer a young guy."

Of some interest, the team has RHP Brent Honeywell, its top starting prospect, pitching at Triple-A Durham on the same day as Snell.

TOPKIN'S TAKEAWAYS: Beat writer Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-A's game.

Lining up

Assuming Steven Souza Jr. is okay, he will be the primary leadoff hitter, Cash said, with DH/LF Corey Dickerson second and C Wilson Ramos fifth behind the 3-4 duo of 3B Evan Longoria and 1B Logan Morrison. The tradeoff is dropping down CF Mallex Smith, who is in a 1-for-21 skid. "I think the league has made adjustments …on Mallex, and now it's kind of his turn to make some adjustments on the league," manager Kevin Cash said.

Rally guys

Adeiny Hechavarria on Tuesday had the Rays' fourth game-tying hit with two outs in the ninth inning. Before this season, the team's last was in June 2012, by Brooks Conrad in Philadelphia. The list of this season's game-tying hits:

Date Opponent Details

7/18 at Oakland Hechavarria single, tied it 4-4

6/30 at Baltimore Hechavarria single, tied it 3-3

5/31 at Texas Kiermaier solo homer, tied it 4-4

5/28 at Minnesota Souza single, tied it 5-5

THE MARTIN CHRONICLES: Is this a special Rays season? asks columnist Martin Fennelly.

Rally team

Tuesday was the Rays' AL-most fifth win when trailing after eight innings; their 5-39 record this season a big improvement from last year's 0-83. The games:

Date Opponent Result

7/18 at Oakland Trailed 3-2, won 4-3

6/30 at Baltimore Trailed 4-3, won 6-4 (10)

5/31 at Texas Trailed 4-3, won 7-5 (10)

5/28 at Minnesota Trailed 5-3, won 8-6 (15)

4/19 vs. Detroit Trailed 7-6, won 8-7

Miscellany

• 1B/DH Rickie Weeks (shoulder, hand) started what looks to be a weeklong rehab with Triple-A Durham on Wednesday, playing first, going 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. … Rehabbing minor-league pitchers RHP Jaime Schultz (groin) and RHP Burch Smith (elbow) moved up from the GCL Rays to the advanced Class A Stone Crabs.

• Rays video coordinator Jeremy Sowers had a good trip, as three of the Rays four challenges resulted in reversals.

• RHP Andrew Kittredge lost track of how many messages he got from family, friends and former teammates after making his big-league debut Tuesday. Plus he had one of his five sisters (and her husband and son), his fiancee (and her parents) and a couple of buddies, and his parents, brother and others watching on TV in Spokane, Wash. "Pretty cool," said Kittredge, the youngest of seven. Plus he got the ball from his first out.

Steven Souza Jr.'s home run Tuesday was clocked with an exit velocity of 113.2 mph, highest by a Ray for a homer since StatCast was implemented in 2015.

• SS Jake Cronenworth and RHP Drew Smith (the PTBNL in the Mikie Mahtook trade with Detroit) were promoted to Double-A Montgomery.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere, left, huddles behind Freedom Division catcher James Skelton, of the York Revolution, as the official wears an earpiece during the first inning of the Atlantic League All-Star minor league baseball game, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in York, Pa. deBrauwere wore the earpiece connected to an iPhone in his ball bag which relayed ball and strike calls upon receiving it from a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar. The independent Atlantic League became the first American professional baseball league to let the computer call balls and strikes during the all star game.
    Commissioner Rob Manfred says it will be used during the Class A Florida State League season.
  2. Baseball America released its annual list on Wednesday. [Baseball America]
    Wander Franco is No. 1 again, and Brendan McKay No. 14 as Rays lead the way.
  3. Out of 397 ballots cast, only one did not elect Derek Jeter to the Hall of Fame. [DAVID SANTIAGO  |  TNS via ZUMA Wire]
    A unanimous selection was the only remaining question and Jeter falls one vote short.
  4. In this file photo, American League All-Star Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees acknowledges the crowd before his first at bat during the 85th MLB All-Star Game at Target Field on July 15, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
    John Romano | A clear majority of readers reacted harshly to my suggestion that Derek Jeter, while being an all-time great shortstop, might be a little overrated.
  5. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter laughs with teammates during Monday's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times] [Tampa Bay Times]
    Derek Jeter and Scott Rolen joined the list, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are still there, Curt Schilling still isn’t
  6. He is a Yankee icon. One of baseball's greatest ambassadors. And soon, he will be a Hall of Famer. But did Jeter's reputation exceed his actual value on the field? [GENE J. PUSKAR  |  Associated Press]
    John Romano | The Yankees shortstop might join former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall of Fame selections, but his defensive abilities left a lot to be desired.
  7. Former White Sox manager Tony La Russa stands with his Baseball Hall of Fame plaque while being honored before a game in Chicago on Aug.  30, 2014. [MATT MARTON  |  AP]
    "There was a toggle switch in the manager’s office and a camera zoomed in on the catcher,” Jack McDowell says of the setup he claims was installed by the Hall of Fame manager.
  8. In this 2007 file photo, Alyssa Nakken making the all-metro softball team at Woodland High School in Sacramento, Calif. [RENEE T. BONNAFON  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    Alyssa Nakken, 29, a former standout softball player at Sacramento State, will be in uniform for the big-league team, though not in the dugout during games.
  9. After five winning seasons, and four playoff appearances, in Chicago, Joe Maddon will return to the Angels where he spent 12 seasons as a big league coach before coming to Tampa Bay. [JEFF GRITCHEN  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    As he gets nearer to Hall of Fame standards, the former Rays manager is contemplating a return to some old-style baseball ideas in his new gig as the Angels manager.
  10. New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran listens to a question during the Major League Baseball winter meetings on Dec. 10, 2019. [GREGORY BULL  |  AP]
    The move comes after the Astros and Red Sox also lose their managers.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement