HOUSTON — After an initial assessment of extensive damage to their Port Charlotte training complex caused by Hurricane Ian, the Rays don’t know — and won’t for a while — if they will be able to hold camp there next spring.
“I think it’s too soon to tell,” manager Kevin Cash said.
In part, baseball operations president Erik Neander said, that’s because the organization’s initial concern is to help their employees, some of whom had significant damage to their houses, as well as the overall area.
“The complex is a concern, but it’s not a priority,” Neander said. “We are focused on helping our staff and the Charlotte County community.”
For example, Cash said, minor-league equipment manager Tim McKechney’s house was damaged and likely will be without power for weeks.
Damage to the complex was widespread. “I heard it got beat up pretty good,” Cash said. “The structure is OK. What you would think would get damaged probably got damaged — tarps ripped off, some roof issues. But probably more concerned for the families that are down there.”
Saturday starter Shane McClanahan said his parents’ house in Cape Coral, near where the storm hit, was damaged. They will be staying with family on the east coast, as they did during the storm, for a while.
“Fence damage, flooding, a lot of trees down, no power, cellphone service is spotty,” he said “Ultimately, it could have been a lot worse. Everybody’s OK, that’s all that matters. You can rebuild a house, can’t really fix something that happens to your family.”
McClanahan said many of his friends’ homes were damaged, as well. It was frustrating for him to not be able to help more, and he thinks a lot about how bad the situation is. “It’s been on all of our minds, especially me,” he said. “We’re human. It’s tough to balance the work life and the personal life.”
Diaz is back in Rays’ lineup
A day after saying he was “a little worried” about returning to action before the end of the season due to a sore left shoulder, Yandy Diaz was back in the Rays’ lineup for the first time since Sept. 19 and was quite a hit, rapping two singles and a double, driving in two runs and scoring two.
“I felt a lot better (Friday,),” he said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “But on that last at-bat, on the swing, I kind of felt it a little bit.”
Cash said a key was Diaz testing his sore left shoulder hitting off a high-velocity pitching machine on Thursday. “I asked him on the plane (to Houston after Thursday’s game), “Do you want to play?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, “All right.’”
The Rays have missed Diaz, who is hitting .344 in September and ranks among the AL leaders with a .402 on-base percentage.
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Rays reliever Brooks Raley, an Astro the previous two seasons, will receive his 2021 AL championship ring before Saturday’s game. Though they lost the World Series, the Astros went big — with 104 diamonds (for 95 regular-season and nine postseason wins) and 50 blue and orange sapphires for about 7.1 carats of gemstones.
“I think it’ll kind of give everything kind of closure and, obviously, remembering a good time,” Raley said. “I’ve kind of thought about just that ring and what we accomplished. Obviously didn’t reach the full goal of that team, but definitely something to remember.”
Raley said it was fun to return to Minute Maid Park, though different to be in the visitors clubhouse. Jose Siri, acquired from the Astros on Aug. 1, also said it was good to be back and got some applause before his first at-bat.
Lefty reliever Jalen Beeks (right leg tightness) is in line to be activated from the injured list when eligible Monday or shortly thereafter and be an option for the playoffs. … Saturday’s game is being broadcast regionally by Fox, starting at 7:20 p.m. Tampa Bay time, so there is no Bally Sports Sun coverage. … McClanahan said he felt good physically and confident heading into his last regular season start.
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