ST. PETERSBURG — Now that his arm, stamina and anticipation have been adequately stretched out, Rays 2020 left-handed rookie sensation Josh Fleming is set for his 2021 debut.
Only a couple weeks later than he expected.
Bent on making the club’s opening-day roster, Fleming had to settle for opening month. In the wake of his dazzling spring, the 24-year-old was added to the taxi squad Monday and will work in some capacity — starter or following an opener — Wednesday night against the Rangers.
Veteran Rich Hill, initially set to make his third start of the season Wednesday, was pushed back a day, a beneficial byproduct for the 41-year-old starter. Manager Kevin Cash said Fleming — who surrendered no earned runs in four spring outings — is “full go.”
“He got built up a little bit more than the other guys that were optioned during spring training,” Cash said. “And he’s been able to hold that length throughout his first couple of weeks at the (alternate) site.”
Fleming went 4-0 with a 3.16 ERA in five starts last year and pitched four times in relief. In 32 1/3 innings, he surrendered 10 earned runs (2.78 ERA), striking out 25 and walking seven. In his final outing this past spring, he fanned five, allowing a hit, a walk and a hit batsman in a 3 2/3-inning relief outing against Boston.
“Really competes — I mean really competes,” Cash said.
“He wants to win; he works fast. He’s intent with his pitches in the zone. He’s not enamored with swing and miss; he tries to create as much soft contact as possible, throwing strikes. I think he knows what makes him really special, and that’s sinking the ball, cutting the ball and putting it on the ground, letting his defense play.”
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