ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays received their 2020 American League Championship rings Monday afternoon during a ceremony at Tropicana Field. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and general manager Erik Neander spoke to the group, emphasizing the special nature of last season’s accomplishments, which also were spotlighted during a five-minute video presentation.
The Rays fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a six-game World Series.
“(The rings) are beautiful … there’s no other (way) to put it,” Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “All of us were blown away by them. They’re about as sexy as a ring could get without being a World Series champion.
“We have a lot to be proud of with what those rings represent. No one will be able to take that away from us. They knocked it out of the park.”
Produced by Jostens, the rings are personalized with each player’s name and number. The dominant image is a gold starburst — part of the team’s logo — embedded with a diamond background.
Texas Rangers first baseman Nate Lowe, who was with the Rays last season, was in town for the start of a three-game series and invited to the ceremony. Rays manager Kevin Cash said the organization will work to make special deliveries to other ex-Rays such as Hunter Renfroe (Red Sox), Blake Snell (Padres) and Charlie Morton (Braves).
“The rings are a keepsake and it reminds you how special that season was,” Cash said. “Our players were pretty excited. When you open the box, it’s a pretty nice bright view.
“Stu and Erik showed a lot of appreciation for the players and the staff alike. They commended the players on how they went about their business during difficult times in the thick of a pandemic.”
Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough said he was thrilled to receive his ring. The memories from last season made him emotional.
“I got some goosebumps during the video,” Yarbrough said. “When you see it from the beginning of the initial spring training to the summer camp to the playoffs and relive it in one setting … it was pretty awesome.”
“The video reminded us of how special it was and gave us all those feels,” Kiermaier said. “It motivates us to want to get back to that point. We all want to get back and do what we have to do make that happen.”
Oh, baby: it’s a girl
Yarbrough, who starts Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers, announced that he and wife Nicole are expecting their first child, a girl, in October. They had a “gender reveal” function — pink was everywhere — Monday at Tropicana Field.
“We’re very excited,” Yarbrough said. “Today was the big day (learning the gender), so we really wanted to enjoy this day. It was great, probably one of the best days of my life, to be honest.
“The baby is really healthy and that was really all we were worried about. It’s too soon for names. But I’m sure Nicole is already working on it and deep-diving on it. We’ll be brainstorming for a while.”
Richards in place
The Rays recalled right-hander Trevor Richards from the alternate training site in Port Charlotte after sending down right-hander Brent Honeywell, who pitched two scoreless innings in his major-league debut Sunday.
Richards made nine appearances (four starts) last season, when he had a 0-0 record and 5.91 ERA in 32 innings. Cash said Richards is built up to go between three and five innings.
“Trevor has got pitches in him to provide length,” Cash said. “It’s good to have him and get him back in the mix.”
Cash said the club will maintain a cautious approach with Honeywell, who went 1,300 days (and four elbow surgeries) between the Triple-A national championship game on Sept. 19, 2017, and Sunday’s outing.
“We talked to Honey after the game and tried to reinforce, ‘Let’s be responsible, let’s be honest with feedback,’ ” Cash said. “He has gone too far not to be honest. Let’s see how you bounce back. He had two solid innings and we’ll see if we want to tweak the buildup.”
Additionally, catcher Joseph Odom cleared waivers and took an outright assignment to the alternate training site.
Kiermaier, out with a left quad strain, said he expects to be back in the lineup within “a week or so.” He ran Monday and termed himself at “70 percent.” The key will be how he feels when doing an all-out sprint.
“I’m in a great place mentally and everything has gone as smooth as it could,” Kiermaier said. “I can’t sit still. It has been trying at times. It just drives me crazy. I hate watching games from the bench and not being available. You do what you have to do to see the field soon as possible and I’m looking forward to pushing myself.”
Cash thinks right-hander Chris Archer, who exited Saturday’s game with right forearm tightness, will not be sidelined for long.
“We’re hearing good news,” Cash said. “Couple more days and he’ll pick up a ball again. He’ll stay back (from the road trip to New York, which begins Thursday), but he should start playing catch before we leave. We’re optimistic it will not be that long of a stay (on the injured list).”
First baseman Ji-Man Choi (right knee surgery), meanwhile, was “moving around and walking … that’s good,” according to Cash. “With that type of procedure, you do see a fairly quick bounceback. Three to five weeks. As we get closer to the three-week mark, we’ll have a better understanding.”
Accolades for Arozarena
Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena earned his first MLB Play of the Week honors for his diving catch in deep right-center during the April 5 game at Boston’s Fenway Park. Arozarena is the first Ray to win a Play of the Week designation since the award was instituted in 2019.
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