ST. PETERSBURG — First baseman/designated hitter Jose Martinez joined the Rays on the field Saturday for the first time since workouts started July 3, his participation delayed by a positive COVID-19 test during intake screening.
Martinez said that he had no real symptoms beyond feeling like he had a brief cold and that after a 14-day quarantine he feels fine and hopes to be ready for Friday’s season opener.
“I’m going to say I’m going to take my time,” he said. “Just knowing that because … I went two weeks without running, that’s the main thing. I’ve already been talking to the strength and conditioning guys, and we’re going to start from there and go step by step. Hopefully, of course the idea is to be there for opening day, but if not, if body-wise it says no, you have to pay attention.”
Martinez, who turns 32 on July 25, had been among the players working out at Tropicana Field informally starting in late May. He said he was surprised to find out he tested positive prior to the start of Spring 2.0 since he hadn’t felt sick.
He said he had some worry and frustration during the quarantine, but his main focus was following the protocols and not risk exposing anyone else among teammates or family members who helped care for him.
“I was in shape before this and just because I wanted to do the right thing, I stopped completely all the running, all the (workout) stuff,” he said. “For me, I would 100 percent feel bad if I did something wrong and go out to a gym or something to get some people involved in this process.”
Manager Kevin Cash said Martinez will stand in against live pitching, starting Sunday, and “if all goes well, I certainly think we can envision being ready for an opening-day opportunity.”
Martinez is the third Rays player known to test positive.
Pitcher Tyler Glasnow joined workouts for the first time on Tuesday, and outfielder Austin Meadows, who took part in the July workout, is still in the process of being cleared. Pitcher Yonny Chirinos and outfielder Randy Arozarena have yet to work out with the team on the field, and pitcher Brendan McKay has not been with the group for more than 10 days.
Herrmann, LaMarre opt out
Catcher Chris Herrmann and outfielder Ryan LaMarre, big-league veterans on minor-league deals, exercised opt-out clauses in their contracts to be released so they can sign elsewhere. While the Rays are relatively deep in outfielders, Herrmann’s departure leaves them with only three experienced catchers in their now 58-man player pool — Mike Zunino, Michael Perez and Kevan Smith, another veteran on a minor-league deal. They also have prospect Ronaldo Hernandez, who is on 40-man roster, but he hasn’t played above Class A. The Rays can add players, either from their organization or acquired elsewhere, to the pool.
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Players who were seen on the field for Saturday’s workout, the most since Spring 2.0 started July 3.
A 2019 American League Wild Card banner was hung in leftfield, but it is a placeholder until a new one, matching the design of their other five, arrives, possibly by Friday. The order of the other five was shuffled to be in chronological order, from left to right. … The Rays experimented for the second time Saturday with fake crowd noise during a modified intrasquad game played with no fielders. … Cash praised lefty Jalen Beeks, who again showed his increased velocity while working 3⅓ innings, and reliever Colin Poche, who had his best outing of Spring 2.0. … Umpire James Hoye worked home plate and wore a plastic field shield attached to his usual mask.