KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rays manager Kevin Cash has a first-hand appreciation for the accomplishments that put David Ortiz into position to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Cash teamed with Ortiz for parts of three seasons (2007-08, 2010) in Boston, and played and managed against him for years both before and afterward.
“A spectacular career,” Cash said. “Really awesome teammate. As much as any player that I’ve been around, how a city just completely embraced him and he embraced the city. It was pretty awesome to kind of be close and sit and watch that close by.”
One of the characteristics that made Ortiz special, Cash said, was the way he treated teammates, especially some of the fringe players.
“He was very welcoming,” Cash said. “He treated everybody equally. He could have chosen, being a superstar, to nonchalantly just pass by if you weren’t an everyday player.
“He was remarkable in the way he went out of his way for the call-ups, the guys that were up and down and then the guys that were the 24th and 25th players on the roster.”
Aside from some apparently epic clubhouse card games, Cash said there were too many Ortiz moments to have a favorite.
“Anytime he stepped up to the plate, if the game was tied or we were behind, it felt like he was always the guy you wanted up there,” Cash said.
About 35 Rays players, coaches, staff and family members toured the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Saturday morning, getting a better sense of the immense challenges and hurdles players of color faced, and the success that some had. “Looking at what they had to go through, to be in the position that we are right now, I feel extremely blessed,” said third-base coach Rodney Linares, noting some similarities to issues his father, Julio, dealt with as a minor-leaguer from the Dominican Republic. “It was, like, a very humbling experience.” Reliever Matt Wisler said he found the tour very informative and educational, especially about the segregation issues, and “it’s something that anyone that plays (in Kansas City) should definitely just check out.” Other players who visited included Shawn Armstrong, Randy Arozarena, Brooks Raley and Ryan Thompson.
JT Chargois (oblique strain), Yonny Chirinos (Tommy John surgery) and Brendan McKay (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) each threw an inning Saturday morning in rehab appearances for the Florida Complex League team. Cash said they were “encouraged” that Chargois, who is closest to joining the Rays, was sharp, hitting 93-95 mph. Chirinos, in his second game after August 2020 surgery and several setbacks, showed an uptick in velocity. McKay was in his first game since Aug. 17. Also rehabbing with the FCL team are lefty Cody Reed and righty Aaron Slegers.
With a walk, Yandy Diaz reached base in his 21th consecutive start, and 21 of 22 games, with just an unsuccessful pinch-hit appearance in between. ... Reliever Jason Adam, who grew up in the Kansas City area and whose parents still live there, provided tickets for 64 relatives and friends Saturday, joking he was playing for free that day but “we do get free babysitting” when in town. … Top pitching prospect Taj Bradley will make his first start for Triple-A Durham on Sunday, having been promoted from Double-A after pitching in the All-Star Futures Game. ... First-pitch temperature was 99 degrees.... Top 2020 draft pick Nick Bitsko, working his way back from shoulder surgery, had a tough outing Thursday for the FCL team, throwing 16 balls on 17 pitches, allowing four walks and a two-run single. In seven games (11 innings) overall, he is 1-2 with a 10.64 ERA, 15 walks and 11 strikeouts.
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.