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Kevin Cash: Rays are getting excited about potential start of play

"The players I’ve spoken with, they consistently show kind of a champing at the bit mentality of ready to go.”
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash says the team is "fully prepared whenever that kind of ‘thumbs up’ comes" from the league to return to conditioning and play ball.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash says the team is "fully prepared whenever that kind of ‘thumbs up’ comes" from the league to return to conditioning and play ball. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 14, 2020|Updated May 15, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — With league officials and players union reps negotiating details for a potential start to the pandemic-delayed season, Kevin Cash said he and his Rays players are getting understandably excited.

“They are working through things and certainly right when that came out, it’s natural to get excited,” Cash said Thursday on a media conference call. "I am excited. Last time we talked ... I said, ‘gaining confidence.' I still feel that way but totally respect the situation that there are a plethora of things that have to be ironed out.

“Generally speaking, when MLB and the owners come together with the players to come to an agreement on different situations and circumstances, sometimes that can take some time. They want to do what’s right and fair for all parties.”

Cash said he gets the same sense from the players he has conversed with.

Related: Rays’ Blake Snell: ‘Just not worth it’ to play in 2020 for reduced pay

“I talked to about eight of them (Wednesday)," he said. “Certainly with the public knowledge of the proposal that is currently being sent over to the association, I think that’s stirred a lot of thought and conversation amongst them. They’re similar to us. They’re kind of waiting to hear the back and forth. The players I’ve spoken with, they consistently show kind of a champing at the bit mentality of ready to go.”

The proposed plan — which is subject to a series of health and safety issues, including testing protocols and governmental permissions — calls for an 82-game season that would start in July with most teams playing in their home ballparks, and an abbreviated second spring training opening around mid June (likely at Tropicana Field rather than the Rays’ Port Charlotte training facility).

Cash said the Rays are making preparations, if not specific plans, for an agreement they hope comes sooner than later.

“We’re trying to take as much guidance as we can get from MLB," Cash said. “Saying that, we are fully prepared whenever that kind of ‘thumbs up’ comes. We’re confident that we will have plenty of time to get our guys in shape. Certainly there’s going to be a priority put on our pitchers because they generally take a longer period of time to get up and going, and built up, all those things. But we’re currently discussing many different options, and considering different things that will help us when that re-entry protocol takes place.”

Related: John Romano says Blake Snell's best defense is "temporary stupidity"

And when that does happen, the Rays staff stresses creativity and flexibility in dealing with getting players ready in two or three weeks.

“I think the fair challenge to all of it is it’s going to be different," he said. "It’s going to be something out of our comfort zone, that we all ultimately just have to do, And we’re going to do. If they can come to an agreement, we will be accommodating to whatever situation is thrown at us. ...

“I wish we had, ‘This is what’s going to happen,’ but I don’t think anybody really does. As much as we pride ourselves on communication, we’re going to have to take it to another level with the players, staff feedback, player involvement, obviously (pitching coaches) Kyle (Snyder) and Stan (Boroski), and it goes to position players also. ...

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“If there are (exhibition) games, great. If there are no games, we’ll adjust. We’ll have a lot of sim games, try to make as many challenges and intensify it. I think you guys have all been around enough to see.”

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