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Rays' Willy Adames trying glasses to boost home numbers

Notebook | The issue is seeing the ball while hitting at Tropicana Field, and the numbers show it’s a problem.
Nate Lowe, right, celebrates his solo home run off Red Sox pitcher Domingo Tapia with Rays teammate Willy Adames during the sixth inning Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at Tropicana Field.
Nate Lowe, right, celebrates his solo home run off Red Sox pitcher Domingo Tapia with Rays teammate Willy Adames during the sixth inning Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, at Tropicana Field. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | AP ]
Published Sep. 12, 2020
Updated Sep. 12, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays shortstop Willy Adames said he plans to continue wearing nonprescription glasses at Tropicana Field, where his offensive numbers are staggeringly different than his road performances.

"I’ve been having a hard time picking up the ball the last two series,” said Adames, 25, who wasn’t in the lineup for Friday’s game against the Red Sox. "I could barely see the ball. I don’t know if it’s the air conditioning, the lights, I don’t know.

“I’m just trying to figure out something to help me pick up the ball a little earlier. I’m just trying to figure out something so I can help the team a little bit more.”

Adames wore the clear glasses, provided by a trainer, Thursday night during his final at-bat (he walked). He’s batting .179 at home this season with one home run and a .597 OPS. On the road, he’s batting .367 with four homers and a 1.096 OPS.

His Trop struggles mirror the numbers from 2019, when Adames batted .204 at home with five homers and a .557 OPS. On the road, he batted .303 with 15 homers and a .903 OPS.

Adames, who doesn’t wear glasses off the field, insisted he doesn’t need to see an eye doctor. He prefers to “figure out a way myself.”

“You can see the difference in numbers,” he said. “Since the beginning of last year, I was having trouble, I guess. Every time we come from the road, it’s different in here. I don’t want to make an excuse of that. I’ve just been struggling here.”

Yet Adames managed to homer in both of last season’s American League Division Series games against the Astros played at the Trop.

“What can I tell you?” Adames said. "At the end of last year, I felt a little better. I’m just happy I helped the team a little more at the end of the year. I’m trying to figure out a way to maintain that.

“It’s hard. Every time I come from the road and do something (well), I get here and I can’t help the team.”

Manager Kevin Cash said “there are a lot of people in this game who would sign up for the season he has had,” but Cash acknowledged that the situation should be monitored.

“Basically, it’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Cash said. "There are times throughout a season that you’re just not seeing the ball well. There probably needs to be more conversations had with Willy to see what he’s expressing.

“He’s seeing something when he’s at the plate. If it’s something affecting him at home, we’ll put our heads together and try to come up with the best course of action to help him. If it’s more reps, more work in a live setting, maybe that’s something we’d consider.”

Memories of 9/11

Friday was the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. That time in history is an unforgettable memory for the club’s major-league field coordinator, Paul Hoover, who was a Rays catcher making his big-league debut on Sept. 8, 2001 (collecting a pinch-hit single in his first at-bat at Oakland). He returned home with the Rays and was staying with a teammate when he was awakened on the morning of the attacks.

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“Somebody comes knocking at the door, ‘Wake up, wake up, turn on the news, we’re under attack,'” Hoover said. “We saw smoke coming out of one of the Twin Towers. We didn’t know what to think.”

Major-league games were postponed throughout that week. Hoover remained with the Rays when play resumed and was with the team at an emotional Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, the first Yankees home game after 9/11.

"It was very intense, and everyone was locked in,'' Hoover said. “I remember walking down into the dugout and seeing nothing but firefighters and police officers along both (base) lines. I don’t remember much about the game. I remember the national anthem, God Bless America and the feeling that the United States of America, we were united as one.”

Strikeout mark in sight

Right-hander Tyler Glasnow can tie the club record tonight for most consecutive games with eight or more strikeouts (six by David Price in 2014). Glasnow (2-1, 4.35 ERA), who leads the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (15.10), battled through a migraine, self-described poor rhythm and a 30-pitch first inning Sunday against the Marlins. He gave the Rays 5⅓ innings and 105 pitches in a game they eventually won, 5-4 in 10 innings.

"It wasn’t terrible, kind of mild (migraine) symptoms, and I recovered fine right after,'' Glasnow said. "Me and Kyle (Snyder, pitching coach) have been working (on the proper rhythm), hands and legs, getting everything to be kind of balanced. It has been feeling good throughout the week. Kyle has stayed on me, and I’ll get it right.''

Miscellany

The Rays did not take batting practice before Friday’s game against the Red Sox. "We’ve been trying to grind through this, and it hasn’t gone in our favor,'' Cash said. "Hopefully we’ll give them a couple extra hours at home, let them relax a little bit, more show and go. Let’s see if we can string some runs together that way.'' It worked well. The Rays had their highest run total since Aug. 30 and scored in double digits for the fifth time this season. … Catcher Mike Zunino (out with left oblique strain) worked with major-league field coordinator Paul Hoover on catching drills and took about 30 swings in the batting cage. He might take up to 50 swings Saturday. "He’s definitely on the right track,'' Cash said. … Cash sounded optimistic on the return of left-hander Jose Alvarado (45-day injured list, left shoulder inflammation). It’s possible Alvarado could pitch some simulated games at the alternate training site in Port Charlotte and emerge in a potential postseason. "If we get to the point where he’s available, it presents a pretty unique situation,'' Cash said. "It’s similar to Yandy (Diaz), just coming out of nowhere (reinstated for the 2019 postseason), here you go, come help us win games … and he did. We’re at the mercy of a shortened season. Jose is not going to have opportunities to kind of work his way back into the regular season. He’s going to have to make the most out of those reps at the alternate site.'' … Right-hander Oliver Drake (right biceps tendinitis) continues to progress, but his return remains uncertain.