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Rays’ versatile Mike Brosseau adds first base to his resume

Rays notes | Blake Snell looking at working 3-4 innings on Friday, ex-Ray Alex Cobb set to start for Orioles.

Mike Brosseau is the kind of guy who will do whatever is asked on the field, and make an effort to do it well.

So when manager Kevin Cash decided to keep Yandy Diaz where he is more comfortable at third base and Jose Martinez where he is better at DH as he built a right-handed-heavy lineup Thursday against Braves lefty Max Fried, Cash gave Brosseau the first start of his short big-league career at first base.

“Bross is so versatile, it seems like wherever you ask him to play he’ll work at it that day and become really good,” Cash said on a Zoom video call from Atlanta.

Brosseau, who made his debut in June 2019, has spent most of his time in the majors at second and third base and in the corner outfield spots, and welcomed a chance to add another position to his portfolio.

“Obviously, the more gloves you can put in your bag, the better off you’re going to be in my opinion,” Brosseau said. “I guess if you want to call it a badge of honor, we can go with that term. As long as I’m on the field and I’m feeling comfortable where they’re putting me, and the coaching staff does a great job getting me to that comfort level, then I’m all for it.”

Brosseau had some experience at first in the minors, starting 17 games at Triple-A last year (and getting good reviews from Durham manager Brady Williams) and 25 before that. He said the biggest challenge at this level is adjusting to his positioning in the various shifts and keeping track of how far he is from the base. Thursday turned out to be relatively uneventful in the field, and Brosseau got the Rays’ first hit with a fifth-inning single before getting picked off.

“My comfort level is pretty good over there,” he said. “Not as great as maybe second or third base, but I definitely feel comfortable enough to do a good job and help the team out over there.”

Knowing he could be getting time at first this season, Brosseau ordered a mitt prior to the original spring training but didn’t get to break it in much. “Took it (to the hotel Wednesday night), put it under the mattress and got it broken in a little more,” he said.

Regular first baseman Ji-Man Choi missed Wednesday’s game due to a sore right shoulder but said he felt “great” Thursday,and came off the bench to deliver an RBI pinch-hit in the seventh.

Snell looking at 3-4 innings

Blake Snell goes into Friday’s start in Baltimore looking to increase his workload to three or four innings after throwing 46 pitches over two in his Sunday debut.

“If we can get Blake where his pitch count is down, I think we can start adding innings, maybe multiple innings,” Cash said.

Snell is taking a slow tact in building up coming off the short Spring 2.0 camp following the long layoff after an original spring interrupted by elbow discomfort that required a cortisone shot.

“I’m going to try to keep within what I’ve been doing,” Snell said. “I’m not going to try to max out velo or get nasty. I’m happy with where I’m at. I feel like it’s definitely more than enough. My velo will continue to climb the more that I pitch.”

Snell averaged 94.9 mph on his fastball Sunday per fangraphs.com, down just a tick from 95.9 for the injury-interrupted 2019 season and 96.5 in 2018.

Tweet of the day

Hey, you look familiar

There will be a familiar face on the mound for the Orioles Friday as Alex Cobb, a key member of the Rays rotation from 2012-2017, makes the start. “Huge appreciation for Alex Cobb the person, the teammate and definitely the pitcher, what he meant to our pitching staff while he was here,” Cash said.

Quote of the day

“Me being locked in a hotel room, I can find a lot of entertainment in that. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m just waiting for Neil (Solondz, the radio pre-/post-game host) to go live on Facebook more often. … More Baseball 101.”

— Snell, on the recommendation to not leave the hotel

Miscellany

Lefty reliever Colin Poche underwent Tommy John surgery Wednesday performed by Dr. Keith Meister in Texas and will stay there to do his initial rehab. Poche will be out until at least late next season. … The Rays are still awaiting official word if they will be off next Thursday, with the scheduled game against the Yankees instead played as part of an Aug. 8 doubleheader (now seven innings per game) due to league-ordered rescheduling stemming from the Phillies and Marlins COVID-19 issues. … Cash said there were no updates on outfielders Austin Meadow and Randy Arozarena, who are working out in Port Charlotte after missing training camp due to COVID-19 cases. ... Willy Adames’ seventh-inning double was the Rays’ first extra-base hit since Monday.

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