ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Archer got a clear reminder he was on the other side now.
After sleeping at his St. Petersburg offseason home Thursday and driving to Tropicana Field on Friday, the former Rays/current Twins starter pulled into the usual players’ parking lot but was told he had to use a lot on the other side of the stadium.
“They were like, ‘Oh, the visiting team doesn’t park in the players’ lot anymore.’ I was like, ‘You can’t make an exception at all?’ They’re like, ‘No,’” Archer said. “I had to park in some other lot. So it was weird. Like, I really had no clue where I was at.”
Also odd was walking into the visitor’s clubhouse and getting his first look at the accommodations run by Brandon “Tank” Richesin that are often lauded by opposing players. “I had never really been in there, so it was nice to be in there,” Archer said.
But what will be really different? Pitching against the Rays on Saturday afternoon.
Archer has taken the Tropicana Field mound for 89 starts and one postseason relief appearance, and all for the home team.
Most came during his 2012-2018 stint when he rose to be one of the Rays’ top starters and made two All-Star teams before being traded to Pittsburgh. Three came last year during an ill-fated return when he was limited by injury and missed time due to the death of his mother; he pitched in just six games total.
Now fully healthy, Archer, 33, is off to a solid start after signing with the Twins in late March, with a 0-0, 3.18 record in three outings as he continues to build workload.
He said Friday that he was trying to treat it like a normal start and “it really hasn’t hit me yet.”
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, a former Rays player and coach, said he expects plenty of emotion on both sides.
“I’m sure he’s going to enjoy it, and you’re going to see it.” Baldelli said. “...He loves to pitch, I’m sure he’s going to really want to show his former team just how he’s throwing the ball because he’s throwing the ball really well right now.
“And he should want that. I’m looking forward to watching him go out there and pitch and pitch in this building again. And it won’t be just emotions for him. I think it’ll be some emotions for a lot of people here.”
New arm for the farm
Lefty Ben Bowden was claimed off waivers from Colorado and sent to Triple-A Durham. Bowden, 27, was 3-2, 6.56, in 39 games with 42 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings for the Rockies last year, and 0-0, 8.22 in seven Triple-A games this year. Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays are impressed with his strikeout numbers in the minors (214 in 146 2/3 innings) and his changeup, but noted his fastball velocity has wavered.
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Bowden took the open 40-man roster spot created when catcher Francisco Mejia went on the COVID-19 injured list after testing positive last week. Mejia is feeling better, and someone will have to go when Mejia is re-instated. Plus the Rays have to drop two players, likely relievers, when rosters are reduced from 28 to 26 after Sunday’s game.
At 2:16, it was the shortest Rays game since the March 31, 2019, game went 2:12. ... Ryan Yarbrough (left groin tightness) felt good in his Thursday rehab start and is likely to join the rotation, Cash said. Tuesday looks to be an open slot. … Catcher Mike Zunino returned to the lineup after leaving Tuesday’s game early, then missing the next two due to left biceps tendinitis. He said the issue has to be monitored but should be behind him. … Cash said first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who missed three games with a slightly hyper-extended left elbow, is feeling better and available off the bench.
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