1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays reliever Jose Alvarado feeling better with parents out of Venezuela

Not only is Alvarado over the elbow injury that ended his 2019 season, but his parents have joined him in Florida.
Jose Alvarado talks to Triple-A pitching coach Rick Knapp on Monday in Port Charlotte. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Times]
Jose Alvarado talks to Triple-A pitching coach Rick Knapp on Monday in Port Charlotte. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Published Feb. 10

PORT CHARLOTTE — Jose Alvarado has reason to feel good about putting his lost 2019 season behind him and regaining his stature as one of the Rays’ best relievers.

That’s because Alvarado said he not only is fully over the elbow issue that ended his disappointing season in August, but he has the added comfort of having his parents now living with him after being able to get visas, with the team’s help, to come to the United States from their native Venezuela.

“I’m very happy because I have my mom here and my father here," Alvarado said Monday before a pre-spring training workout. “I’m very excited."

Related: The 10 Rays to watch most closely this spring

Alvarado’s mother, Crelia, has had health issues for the past several years, which not only took some of his focus away from pitching, evidenced by his seemingly not coincidental struggles after a strong 2019 start, but led to him leaving the team for a month to go back to Venezuela to attend to her.

He returned looking a bit out of shape and in his fourth outing strained an oblique that sidelined him for five more weeks. He came back, pitched five times and was done for the season.

“My mentality this year in 2020 is to focus on working hard, because that situation last year, that was not easy," he said. “This year is a new year. I’m going to spend a lot of time working. I don’t want the same situation as last year. I’m feeling great. I’m feeling strong. I’ll be ready."

Pitching coach Kyle Snyder said Alvarado will benefit greatly from having his parents close, as they traveled together last week from Venezuela to Colombia to Florida. Alvarado said last year that his family in Venezuela, where there have been political and economic issues, had no money and “in the house everybody depends on me.”

“One hundred percent without question," Snyder said. “I know that’s been kind of thing that’s bothered him outside of baseball more than anything else has been the health of his mother. I do think having his family here as a supporting cast, and nothing more than that, will be very good for Jose."

When right, Alvarado, 24, can be one of the game’s most dominant lefty relievers.

Related: Why did Rays trade Emilio Pagan to Padres for Manuel Margot?

Alvarado said he had “no doubt” he can regain the form he showed previously, including the first six weeks last year when he allowed only two runs and eight hits in his first 18 games, striking out 26 (and walking eight) in 17 1/3 innings.

Snyder said he likes what he has heard from Alvarado during the offseason — and what he saw Monday as he played catch at the spring complex — and is confident (“100 percent”) of a bounce back.

Knowing that will be both physical and mental, Snyder started motivating Alvarado early. When the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman won the American League top reliever award in October, Snyder texted Alvarado to tell him “there’s no reason in the world he couldn’t be that guy."

His response: “He texted back an emoji of himself with a big smile."

Alvarado may be doing a lot of that these days.


  1. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor answer questions during a meeting of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club Friday.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay (49) is seen in the dugout during the fifth inning against Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 07, 2019, at Tropicana Field.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays Japanese slugger Yoshi Tsutsugo in the  batting cage during batting practice on the Rays first full-squad workout at the Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd, on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 in Port Charlotte.
  4. Hey kids, these are called ticket stubs. There was a time when you actually had to carry these around with you to get into ballgames and concerts. They're not as efficient as mobile apps, but they do have a certain sentimental value.
  5. Finishing at, or near, the bottom of MLB in attendance isn't even the biggest problem for the Rays. It's the huge gap between where the Rays are in attendance compared to the average team. Tampa Bay is roughly 92 percent below just an average MLB crowd. [Times files (2017)]
  6. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher D.J. Snelten during the start of spring training in Port Charlotte, Florida on Thursday, February 13, 2020.
  7. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell signs autographs for fans during spring baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 in Port Charlotte, Fla.
  8. Tampa-based sports agent B.B. Abbott, left, successfully climbs Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for pediatric cancer charities. He is pictured with friends Dustin Bertram, middle, and Pete Hendricks, who made the climb with him.
  9. Houston Astros outfielder Myles Straw points to the baseball he signed for Noah Jackson, 9, during FanFest at Minute Maid Park on Jan. 18, 2020, in Houston.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Joey Wendle (18) looks from the dugout after losing 6-1 to the Houston Astros after winning Game 5 of the American League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 in Houston.
  11. Tampa Bay Rays fans welcome players during introductions just prior the Rays game against the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
  12. He was the best player on some pretty bad Tampa Bay teams from 2001-06 before being dealt to Houston in the Ben Zobrist trade, but in his book "Baseball Junkie," Aubrey Huff has admitted he was not a particularly likable character.