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Rays’ Brent Honeywell makes impressive first start

The one-time top prospect set down all six Yankees he faced in his major-league debut.
Brent Honeywell delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the first inning of Sunday's game at Tropicana Field.
Brent Honeywell delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees in the first inning of Sunday's game at Tropicana Field. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Apr. 11
Updated Apr. 11

ST. PETERSBURG — Brent Honeywell made an impressive major-league debut Sunday against the Yankees, retiring all six batters he faced.

Honeywell needed only nine pitches to set down the Yankees in order in the first inning, clocking as high as 95 mph with his fastball. He took just 12 pitches to get through the second. Fourteen of his 21 pitches were strikes. He also used a slider and change-up.

In the first, Honeywell got DJ LeMahieu on a fly to right, Aaron Judge on a ground out to second and Aaron Hicks on a grounder to first. In the second, he struck out Giancarlo Stanton looking, Gleyber Torres on a check-swing appeal to the first-base umpire and then newcomer Rougned Odor on a pop out.

Honeywell might not be the only show on Sunday. With two outs in the first, Austin Meadows was hit on the arm by Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery. He was the third Rays batter to be hit in the three games, and his teammates voiced their displeasure from the dugout. The teams have a history of such issues, and the umpires issued a warning to both dugouts to try to prevent an escalation.

Honeywell, 26, is the Rays’ former top pitching prospect who hurt his elbow in spring 2018, had Tommy John surgery and has been battling his way back since.

Manager Kevin Cash said before the game Honeywell’s stuff is as good now as when he pitched his last competitive game on Sept. 19, 2017, for Triple-A Durham. Honeywell pitched one inning in a March 22 spring game against the Red Sox.

“The whole team is excited for him, and we’re looking forward to watching him pitch and have fun,” shortstop Willy Adames said before the game.

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