ST. PETERSBURG — The opening of spring training is a time for new things: new faces, new hopes and, for some, new pitches.
Rays starter Tyler Glasnow is among those, adding a slider/cutter that could expand his repertoire from dynamic, with his top-shelf fastball and sweeping curve, to dominant.
Glasnow said his offseason work, as well as initial consultations with pitching coach Kyle Snyder and high-tech analysis, have been promising.
“It’s just kind of a cutter/slider thing, something that I’ve been messing with,” Glasnow said on a Zoom call after Thursday’s initial workout for pitchers and catchers in Port Charlotte. “We’ve been kind of going into the lab and, (using) all the advanced, kind of like analytical stuff, it’s easier to formulate a third pitch and what I need to do, how I need to position my hand to throw it and everything.
“So I think it’s easier to progress with a pitch when you have all those things to work with. It’s been good. I’ve thrown it the last couple bullpens, and it’s been feeling really good.”
Glasnow, the Rays’ top returning starter, has tried to implement a change-up at times without much success, acknowledging the benefit of a reliable third pitch will be obvious.
“I think it’ll help a lot,” he said. “I just need something that doesn’t have so much depth I can throw for a strike. I think it’ll be a good pitch to get outs on, obviously, too. But I just think it’s one of those things if you’re looking at, like, a plot (of my pitches), I have my heaters up here, my curveball is down here.
“I just need something that’s going to be right here (in the middle) I can kind of just throw whenever I’m behind in the count for a strike. Just to not be so predictable. I think it also puts it into the hitter’s mind that there’s something else, I have another offering. It can only do me some good.”
• Manager Kevin Cash said pitcher Diego Castillo and catcher Francisco Mejia, acquired from San Diego in the Blake Snell trade, did not report. Both are in the United States, Cash said, but have to undergo a five-day quarantine after arriving from the Dominican Republic and are expected to report to camp, take their physicals and start working out when the position players report next week.
• Cash said the first day went well as the team is following Major League Baseball COVID-19 protocols in conducting workouts in small groups. Players and staff are somewhat familiar after last year with the rules, such as mask-wearing and distancing, and restrictions, he said. One new addition, electronic sensors to monitor distancing and close contacts, have not yet arrived.
“For the guys that did it last year, I think we’re more than prepared to put a piece of cloth on our face to be able to play baseball,” reliever Pete Fairbanks said. “I think that’s a pretty easy and fair tradeoff still. Fairbanks also said he is looking forward to vaccines becoming more available so they hopefully can relax the rules later in the season.
* Former All-Star pitcher Chris Archer reported for his second stint with the Rays looking stronger. Archer, traded to Pittsburgh in July 2018, re-signed with the Rays after missing 2020 due to injury. “He seems to be in a really good spot, physically, mentally,” Cash said. “It looks like he’s put on some weight. He’s always been very muscular, but he looks like he’s kind of bulked up a little bit. He said he’s worked really hard on getting some upper-body strength. Health standpoint, he says no limits, he’s ready to go.”