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Rays’ Tyler Glasnow showing he has all the right moves

Rays notes | The team’s top starting pitcher is also a practicing chess player, and he likes the challenge.
The Rays' Tyler Glasnow struck out a career-high 14 Monday in a 1-0 win against the Rangers.
The Rays' Tyler Glasnow struck out a career-high 14 Monday in a 1-0 win against the Rangers. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Apr. 17
Updated Apr. 17

NEW YORK — When Tyler Glasnow would come to New York before pandemic protocols, he made an interesting move to pass time.

He would head down to Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village area and play chess against the local experts set up on the permanent tables.

“I would ... get beat by all the chess players, but it was still fun,’' Glasnow said Friday. “The ones that look the worst are always the best. ... It’s fun. And it’s like you learn a lot, too, from them because they’re so much better than me.’'

Glasnow started hanging out at the park when he lived in New York for three offseasons before coming to the Rays in July 2018. But he had been playing chess since being in the elementary school club.

So does that make him good?

“It depends on what your scale of good is,’' he said. “I could probably beat people who don’t play chess very often. I‘ve played for a lot of years and stuff, but I don’t study it or anything. It’s just kind of like something I do on my phone to pass time.’’

On Saturday, Glasnow will be focused on a different kind of strategy, seeking to extend his terrific start to the season, posting a 1-0, 0.46 record by allowing only one run over three games, giving up seven hits while striking out 29 in 19⅔ innings.

He has been so effective for a number reasons, such as strike-throwing and the impressive use of his new slider. But the right-hander said he’s most proud of his consistency from what was working in spring training.

“There’s always kind of like a disconnect sometimes for me in the past, like spring to season,’' he said. “But (this year) I think it’s just the consistency and what I’ve been working on — physically, mentality-wise, and that third pitch. … It was just like a smooth transition.’'

Glasnow plans to wear cool-looking custom cleats Saturday that next month will be auctioned (auctions.mlb.com) to benefit More Than Baseball (an organization that helps minor-leaguers with expenses) and the Loeffel Epilepsy Foundation (his charity of choice). The cleats include the logo of the Taco Surf, a small food shack in Rosarito, Mexico, that he likes.

Medical matters

Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier felt “really good” the day after testing his strained left quad in simulated-game situations, manager Kevin Cash said, and will go through another similar workout Saturday. If that goes as well, Kiermaier could be activated as soon as Sunday. … Glasnow, the team’s player union rep, said they are now “committed” to reach the 85 percent threshold for vaccinations among Tier 1 personnel (players, coaches, staff in close contact) to have protocols relaxed, though he wasn’t sure if all had their shots or the status of the two-week waiting period.

Number of the day

25

Innings the Rays went without holding a lead, from the fourth Tuesday until the first inning Friday.

Miscellany

• The taxi squad for the six-game trip to New York and Kansas City includes 40-man roster infielder Vidal Brujan and nonroster catcher Kevan Smith (over his spring back stiffness), and pitchers Dietrich Enns, Louis Head and David Hess.

• The Rays are still listing TBA for Sunday’s starter, which sounds like they are considering using an opener in front of Ryan Yarbrough, who is slated to work and isn’t a great matchup against the Yankees..

• First-pitch temperature was 45 degrees.

• Because the Yankees were off Thursday, Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated Friday, so the Rays again all wore No. 42 jerseys.

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