Rays’ Tyler Glasnow found a way to make slider better

Rays notes | A slight change in grip and a tick up in velocity make for a better weapon heading toward the season opener.
Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, pictured during a game last week against the Pirates, threw six innings and 85 pitches Monday in a morning intrasquad game.
Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, pictured during a game last week against the Pirates, threw six innings and 85 pitches Monday in a morning intrasquad game. [ GENE J. PUSKAR ]
Published March 22, 2021|Updated March 22, 2021

PORT CHARLOTTE — Like many of the other Rays, Tyler Glasnow said he was most interested Monday in Brent Honeywell’s return to game action for the first time since September 2017.

But Glasnow had some business of his own to attend to, gearing up for his final tuneup before his April 1 opening-day start in Miami.

And he reportedly handled that quite well, throwing six innings and 85 pitches in a morning intrasquad game on a back field, mixing all four of his pitches.

Glasnow was most pleased with improvements to the new slider he plans to incorporate frequently as an option to his fastball and curve.

“(Monday) was by far the best day my slider’s been — like, by a million,” Glasnow said, attributing the improvement to a slight change in grip he worked on with pitching coach Kyle Snyder. “Just a little shifted on the ball. So I’m super comfortable with it.”

Not only was the shape of the pitch better, Glasnow said, but the velocity was higher, creating more needed separation from the look of his curveball.

“My (slider velocity) was dipping. It was like 85 to 89, and I just think it’s too slow,” he said. “It’s like my curveball, so I had to get more horizontal movement. It was like 88 to 92 today, so it’s, like, perfect. And it was just easier to throw for strikes, too.”

Glasnow expects to make one more spring outing, likely abbreviated, on Saturday.

Because the season opener will be played under National League rules with no DH, Glasnow has also wanted to practice hitting. He texted manager Kevin Cash Sunday to ask if he could get an at-bat in Monday’s intrasquad game. Cash, who doesn’t want Glasnow to risk injury, said he texted back: “Wrong number.”

Quote of the day

“Brent Honeywell, his heart is a baseball. That’s all he wants to do with his life. So there was no way he was going to give up.”

— Pitcher Chris Archer, one of several Rays speaking admiringly about Honeywell’s resolve in overcoming multiple injuries in returning to game action

Roster reductions

The Rays reduced their spring roster to 46 by reassigning seven invited players to the minor leagues: pitchers Louis Head, Brian Moran, Yacksel Rios and Hunter Strickland; outfielder Nathan Lukes; infielder Esteban Quiroz; and catcher Chris Betts. Strickland, a veteran of seven big-league seasons mostly with the Giants, probably had the best chance to make the opening-day roster but had a rough spring, allowing 10 hits (including three homers) and five walks in six innings. “It’s a little unique that you see a guy that’s pumping 96-97 (mph) and he has been hit around a little bit,” Cash said. “We’ve asked him to get the slider going, get the slider in the zone more consistently. That’s been there. And, like, even the stuff (Sunday), was reason to be excited about. And just trying to give that message and similar message to the rest of the pitchers that we talked to, that there’s progress.”

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Game details: Red Sox 10, Rays 4

After Honeywell’s inspiring first inning, Chris Ellis had a rough outing, allowing six runs over the next two, including back-to-back homers in the third, as the Rays (7-13) fell behind 7-2. … Stetson Allie, another non-roster candidate for a bullpen job, also was off, allowing two hits and three walks in a seven-batter seventh. … Third baseman Yandy Diaz sported a bright yellow glove. … Lefty Dietrich Enns, signed last year out of an independent league, had an impressive three-inning outing, striking out four. “He’s been a bright spot in this camp,” Cash said. … Minor-league Infielder Tristan Gray homered in the eighth, raising his spring average to .353 (6-for-17), and improving enough defensively to now handle shortstop, as well. “He’s really turned heads from last year,” Cash said. ... It was Gray’s 25th birthday.