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Rays prospect Garrett Whitley hit in face by foul ball, taken to hospital

The outfielder was sitting on the bench when he was struck under the right eye. Also, Wander Franco is headed to an Olympic qualifier.

SARASOTA — Rays minor-league outfielder Garrett Whitley was hit under the right eye by a foul ball during Monday’s game and taken to a Sarasota hospital with a facial injury.

Whitley was sitting on the bench in the Rays dugout when he was struck by a ball hit sharply by Baltimore’s Renato Nunez. It bounced through the opening between two screens in front of the dugout in the fourth inning of the 3-3 tie.

Manager Kevin Cash said Whitley, 22, did not lose consciousness and was not bleeding extensively, both good signs. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays and/or scans, then later discharged and said to be resting at home. The Rays expect to have an update on Tuesday.

“That was pretty scary,” Cash said. “From the initial test and exams, he was coherent, his eyes were moving fine. He’s going to have a pretty good welt. ... The only blood that I saw was a little bit out of his nose, and then almost like the seam of the baseball split him just a little bit (under the eye), not like a gash.”

Related: Rays take coronavirus precautions; Choi, Tsutsugo worried about homeland

Infielder Joey Wendle said he didn’t see Whitley get hit but “heard not good things” and that Whitley was “pretty banged up.”

Whitley was the Rays’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft out of a New York high school and has moved slowly in the system, missing all of 2018 after injuring his shoulder — which required surgery — during spring training.

He played in 2019 with advanced Class A Charlotte, hitting .226 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs, and has dropped out of the rankings of the team’s top prospects.

Wander Franco gets Olympic shot

Shortstop Wander Franco, the game’s consensus top prospect, was given permission by the Rays to play for the Dominican Republic in the Olympic qualifying tournament March 22-26 in Arizona. Franco, who turned 19 on Sunday, has starred in two seasons in the lower minors, and last week played in his first big-league spring training games. The Dominican team will be competing with the United States, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela for a single spot in the Tokyo Games later this summer. The second- and third-place teams get to play in another qualifying event.

Charlie Morton has a good day

Top starter Charlie Morton was pleased with how he threw in a two-plus inning, 27-pitch second spring outing Monday, including how he spun his curveball and “slider-cutters." But he was happier about how long he threw, getting to start the third inning because he threw only 18 pitches in the first two. “For me the biggest thing is the endurance, so I was glad they let me go back out there," he said. “Up and downs are probably the most challenging because your body has to become accustomed to that kind of 'cool down, heat up, cool down.’ Different stresses."

Game details: Rays 3, Orioles 3

Michael Perez hit an opposite-field homer for the second straight game in Sarasota and also made two strong throws to second in his bid to hang on to the backup catcher’s job he initially won last season. … Shortstop Willy Adames and second baseman Wendle turned what Cash called a “July-form double play” for the Rays (5-4-2). … Ji-Man Choi had his first spring homer. … Catcher prospect Ronaldo Hernandez threw out minor-leaguer Rylan Bannon trying to steal second in the ninth to help preserve the 3-3 tie with Sean Gilmartin on the mound. … Lucius Fox, a shortstop through the minors, continues to get looks in centerfield, making a running catch and strong throw in the ninth.

Quote of the day

“You can’t say anything I haven’t heard already."

Infielder Brandon Lowe, when asked if he ever had a four-homer day as his wife, Madison, who played collegiately at Maryland, did Sunday in the wives game against the Twins

Miscellany

Cash said Blake Snell, who received a cortisone shot Friday due to soreness and inflammation in his elbow, was “feeling good” and is set to resume playing catch on Tuesday. … Brendan McKay, who had been set back earlier in camp with shoulder stiffness, came through Saturday’s live batting practice well and will make his game debut sometime this week. ... The Rays on Tuesday will face longtime Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, now pitching for the Braves.

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