The red-hot Rays, coming off a road sweep of the Yankees, got a chilly reception Monday night against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Game-time temperature was 45 degrees. As the weather plunged into the high 30s in later innings, there were ski caps and parkas all around.
Overnight, freezing temperatures and potential snow were predicted. It harkened back to that crazy May 2013 occasion when a Rays-Royals game was snowed out.
Rays manager Kevin Cash, asked about the 40 family members and friends scheduled to attend Monday night’s start of Missouri native Josh Fleming, made this observation: “I hope they’re bundled up.”
Left-hander Rich Hill, Tuesday night’s Rays starter, chose a glass half full outlook (even though the glass contents could be frozen by game time).
“I’ve heard guys before Rockies games complaining about pitching in (the thin air of) Colorado,” Hill said. “All you’re doing is setting yourself up for failure. There are plenty of excuses we could use.
“Whether it’s raining or snowing or 120 degrees or a dome inside, whatever is is (will be) the best possible condition for myself to pitch. I’m looking at it from that perspective. That’s far more beneficial than trying to sit there and look for an (excuse).”
Rays left-hander Jeffrey Springs was still beaming after collecting his first major-league save (in his 66th MLB appearance) after Sunday’s victory at Yankee Stadium. He even saved the baseball (for a souvenir) and was supposed to receive the lineup card as well.
“It was a cool moment,” said Springs, acquired in the offseason in a deal with the Red Sox. “Hopefully there will be many more.”
Springs said he has gained confidence by fine-tuning his changeup, his best pitch, which has helped the fastball and slider become even more effective.
“I always believe in my stuff,” he said. “My numbers have been sporadic, but I always believe I could get the job done.”
Springs has enjoyed working in the Rays’ bullpen, which doesn’t necessarily have defined roles for its pitchers. Diego Castillo pitched the eighth inning Sunday because the matchups demanded that, leaving the ninth for Springs.
“Diego is the closer,” Springs said. “He has been lights out. There was just a high-leverage situation before the ninth.
“I pitched in Game 2 (of the series on Saturday), then I was running back out there with the game on the line (Sunday). It shows you they truly believe in me when the game is on the line. That definitely goes a long way (in establishing confidence).”
Rays centerfielder Brett Phillips, a former Royal, collected on a Super Bowl 55 bet with his buddy, Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Reflecting Phillips’ victory — the Bucs defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium — Perez sported a red No. 12 Tom Brady jersey during batting practice. Perez did exclaim, “Patrick Mahomes is the best!” The Chiefs quarterback is a part-owner of the Royals.
“Salvy took the bet like a champ,” Phillips said. “You never want to bet against the GOAT (Brady). I hope (Mahomes) sees a photo of Salvy. That would be pure comedy right there. I bought the (Brady) jersey for him. He may never wear it again, but who doesn’t want a Tampa Bay jersey sitting in the back of their closet?”
Phillips said he broke out a football and had Perez throw him a pass.
“I made him throw one pass to me in the end zone — Tom Brady to Brett Phillips — and it was glorious,” Phillips said.
Rays first baseman Mike Brosseau made his fifth consecutive start — at his third different position. … Left-hander Ryan Sherriff, who took some time away from the game for personal reasons, will report to minor-league camp. He will remain on the restricted list. Cash said he hopes to update his progress within a few days. … The Rays moved to 8-3 at Kauffman Stadium since the start of the 2017 season after going through horrid stretches (0-8, then 1-15) there from 2012 to 2016.
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