ST. PETERSBURG — Rays reliever Jose Alvarado was of sound mind and body during the original spring training back in March, comforted to have his parents with him after they moved from Venezuela, and confident the elbow issues that scarred his 2019 season were behind him.
Saturday, he said he was ready to pick up where he left off.
“I’ve been working every day, and right now I’m ready to go,” he said. “I’m very happy, because everything is good. My mom (who had health issues) is here, my father is here, my girlfriend is here. …
“I’m very excited, because I’m feeling like 100-percent ready to go, ready to compete in the games.”
An hour or so later, manager Kevin Cash said Alvarado showed it during a session against hitters in the batting cage/pitching mound lab under the stands.
“Saw Alvarado throw his first live (batting practice), and for good reason nobody decided to swing,” Cash said. “It was about 15 pitches, and I think 13 or 14 were all strikes. Just filthy. Willy (Adames) and (Brandon) Lowe were the contestants today. I’m sure they won’t volunteer to do it again for a while. That was really good to see.”
Cash said that if Alvarado can regain his past form and be consistent, he can be a huge weapon.
“When he’s right he can be as dominating as anybody in the game.”
The right move?
First baseman Ji-Man Choi made an interesting move early in his batting practice session, crossing over to hit right-handed, and looking good. Though he has hit only lefty in the majors, Choi did experiment briefly with switch-hitting early in his career, going 6-for-14 in 2015 with the Mariners’ Triple-A team. Cash said the Rays have seen him take BP right-handed before, which Choi says he does to loosen up. “It’s pretty impressive,” Cash said. “It looks pretty smooth, pretty clean. But we like what he can do left-handed. We’ll keep him hitting left-handed.”
Quote of the day
“That was the hardest part for me, trying to stay in shape and don’t get fat.‘'
— Adames, on his main issue during the shutdown that many of us can relate to
Cash said there “was a better vibe” on Saturday as the players seemed to have “a little more comfort knowing the routine” on Day 2. … Twenty-nine players were seen by reporters on the field, leaving six unaccounted for with the team not commenting on apparent absences: Randy Arozarena, Yonny Chirinos, Tyler Glasnow, Jose Martinez, Austin Meadows, Chaz Roe. … Adames was sporting what could be a trend, a custom mask in Rays colors with his No. 1 on it. … There are tentative plans for a five- to six-inning live batting practice/simulated game Wednesday.