ST. PETERSBURG — Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder was so happy to see four Rays pitchers throw off the bullpen mounds Friday at Tropicana Field, he didn’t care how they looked.
Turns out, he was thrilled with what he saw.
"I’m really happy with where our guys are, just considering what the last 12 weeks have kind of looked like,'' Snyder said.
The Rays reopened the Trop on May 25 for three-day-a-week workouts with strictly limited activities and strict social distancing rules after shutting down spring training in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Friday was the first day pitchers were allowed to use the mounds, and veteran Charlie Morton joined Ryan Yarbrough, Yonny Chirinos and Brendan McKay in taking advantage. Each threw 15-25 pitches to bullpen catchers Misha Dworken and Jean Ramirez.
"These guys, they’re all eager, they’re all smiling. It’s nice to be back,'' Snyder said on a Zoom call. "Obviously, the environment is a little bit different, but it’s just nice to see some smiling faces and these guys getting back to doing what they love.''
Snyder said Anthony Banda, Jalen Beeks and Pete Fairbanks are among the pitchers throwing bullpen sessions where they live currently.
Blake Snell has ramped up his throwing to four-five days a week at a facility near his Seattle-area home and will start throwing off a mound next week for the first time since spring training.
Though league officials and players union leaders continue to be in a standoff in talks to get the season started, Snyder said the dozen or so players working out at the Trop seem anxious to return to action.
“Every guy here is eager to be here,” he said. "They’re eager to get to work. Whatever’s being discussed from a contractual standpoint is not brought here. They realize the likelihood of a season being played is probably pretty good, and they’re doing what they need to do to prepare themselves for if and when that happens.
Snyder said it was good for the pitchers to get back to what they’re used to doing this time of year.
“I think there’s something to the intrinsic value (of being back at the Trop) and beyond that, just the social aspect,” he said. "It’s certainly easier to keep tabs on kind of where these guys are when you’re with them every day as opposed to just reaching out to them individually.
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“I don’t know if it’s been nice to see me from their standpoint,” Snyder continued, "but it’s certainly been nice on my end to be able to put some eyes on some guys, be able to interact with them, and have some live dialogue. It’s been good.''
Snyder said prospect Brent Honeywell is feeling good and remains in good spirits following his most recent setback, a procedure last month to decompress a nerve in his right elbow.