PORT CHARLOTTE — Coming off Sunday’s dramatic 9-7 spring-opening win over the Braves, the Rays are home again today at Charlotte Sports Park to take on the Twins for the first of eight games this month.
Tyler Glasnow, the Rays’ top returning starter, will be on the mound and likely to show off his new slider, which he plans to add to a repertoire that already features a fastball and a curve.
“I know he’s pretty excited about it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said this morning. “And he should be, because he feels like he can land that pitch fairly consistently. We know with Glas it’s a lot of fastballs at the top of the zone (and) featuring that snap curveball right off that fastball.
“To be able to give a different look to a righty or lefty that you know a slider has a little bit more shape, a little bit more tilt to it and something that he can harness in the zone a little bit better. The curveball, it’s not an easy pitch to land. We’ve said with Glasnow, it’s kind of telling in that first inning. If he’s able to land that pitch early, you think in your mind like, ‘All right, he’s set up to really take off of being in the zone and finding that rhythm early with the curveball.’
“This slider might allow him just a little bit more time to get a feel for the curveball, so I’m excited to see it,” Cash continued. “I don’t know how many times he’ll throw it, if he’ll throw it at all today. But I know it’s been a focal point in spring training and bullpens and live BP to to date.”
Cash said first baseman Ji-Man Choi has returned to drill and pre-game work after missing Saturday’s workout due to right knee soreness. Choi is slated to make his exhibition debut Wednesday as a designated hitter and, if all goes well, will play first base on Thursday.
Kevin Kiermaier, who was slowed at the start of camp due to hip tightness, advanced to taking batting practice on Monday. He will face live pitching on Tuesday, though he likely won’t play in a game until next week.
“We have to protect him against himself sometimes,” hitting coach Chad Mottola said, noting there is plenty of time before the season opens.
Also of note:
* Veteran pitchers Chris Archer, Rich Hill and Cody Reed threw their first live batting practice sessions on Sunday and looked good, Cash said. There is the possibility they could advance to game action next.
* Monday’s pregame drill work included cutoffs and relays, and plays at the plate.
* The Twins’ traveling party included coach Bill Evers, the longtime Rays coach, who sat out last season due to pandemic concerns and worked from his home in Palm Harbor. “It’s wonderful to be back,” Evers said from a distance.
Here is the Rays lineup, with lefty Lewis Thorpe starting for the Twins.
J. Lowe rf
And here is Rocco Baldelli’s Twins lineup: