ST. PETERSBURG — Outfielder Austin Meadows went into play Monday leading the American League in hitting with a .346 average. And, maybe more impressively, ranking third in the voting for starting spots on the All-Star team.
Granted, this is just the first release of totals in the primary round of voting which runs through June 21 to determine the finalists at each position, with another Internet election (mlb.com, team sites, mobile apps) starting June 26 to pick the actual starters for the July 9 game.
But there was Meadows, in his first full season in the majors and with the Rays, with 468,111 votes, behind only Mike Trout (951,002) and George Springer (776,352) and ahead of Michael Brantley (458,577) and Mookie Betts (450,407), among others.
“It’s cool to be up there with all the really, really good players in this game, as in like Mike Trout, a guy that I’ve looked up to for a long time," Meadows said.
“It’s definitely very surreal. I’ve just been trying to go out there, and playing the game hard and the stats are what they are. … I’ve just been trying to have fun and really just try to take each day, go by each day and just try to win games and help my team win and that’s kind of been the biggest thing."
Having spent much of 2018 in the minors while being traded to the Rays from the Pirates with Tyler Glasnow in the Chris Archer deal, Meadows isn’t getting too wrapped up in the All-Star talk even though he is among the AL leaders in several other categories, including tops in OPS (1.046).
“If it happens, it does. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t," he said. “For right, now hopefully it does. But we’re going to continue to try to win games here and we’ll see that down the road four weeks from now.” Among other Rays of note, Brandon Lowe was seventh among second baseman, DH Avisail Garcia ninth, outfielder Tommy Pham 15th.
* Reliever Jose Alvarado remains on the unpaid restricted list dealing with an undisclosed family matter in Venezuela, now not likely to return until later in the week.
* Third-base coach Rodney Linares missed the game and will be away another couple days for what the team said is a personal matter. Bench coach Matt Quatraro handled the base coach duties.
* Monday’s game was the first of the five the Rays offered $ tickets for in last week’s flash sale, plus it was a Salute to Service night with free tickets to military, teachers and first responders. The result was a decent announced crowd of 16,091.
* After a 1-for-16, nine-strikeout weekend, shortstop Willy Adames got a day off with Daniel Robertson starting.
* The Rays played 13 hours and nine minutes in a 45:29 span over the weekend.
* The A’s didn’t get to their St. Petersburg hotel until around 4 a.m. Monday after issues with their plane, which was damaged during a storm at the airport as they were trying to leave Texas.