Yandy Diaz, Rays hopeful they avoided a serious injury

The infielder leaves Friday’s game in the first inning after being hit by a pitch. Also, Jeffrey Springs continues to sail through the spring, and Dave Wills is honored.
Rays infielder Yandy Diaz gets hit on his left hand by a pitch during the first inning of Friday's game against the Atlanta Braves at Tropicana Field.
Rays infielder Yandy Diaz gets hit on his left hand by a pitch during the first inning of Friday's game against the Atlanta Braves at Tropicana Field. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published March 10|Updated March 11

Rays infielder Yandy Diaz left Friday’s game against the Braves at Tropicana Field after getting hit by a pitch in the first inning. Manager Kevin Cash said X-rays on Diaz’s hand/wrist were negative, and he was diagnosed with a contusion. He is considered day-to-day, the team said.

“He was pretty sore when I took him out of the game, but hopefully we avoided a scare there,” Cash said after the Rays’ 3-2 loss.

Diaz was in the lineup for just the second time this spring as he deals with a strained hip flexor. He has just three at-bats so far.

Cash said before the game he was not worried about Diaz being ready for the season.

“Of all the guys that we have in this clubhouse, he’s probably the last guy that we’re concerned about needing offensive reps,” Cash said. “He’s just got a knack for stepping in the box and finding barrels.”

Springs’ steady start

Jeffrey Springs could not have imagined a better start to the spring. The right-hander threw 3-1/3 perfect innings Friday, striking out six and retiring all 10 batters he faced.

“Some of the stuff that I’ve been working on, trying to move the ball around, I was pretty excited that the results were there, the movement profile more so than the actual results of hits and things,” said Springs, who signed a four-year extension worth $31 million before reporting to camp.

“I felt like the ball was doing what I wanted it to for the most part. So, definitely a step forward in the right direction.”

Converted back to a starter, Springs is coming off a breakout 2022 season in which he ranked in top 10 among pitchers with at least 120 innings with 9.56 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.10 walks and hits per inning pitched, and a 4.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Friday, he threw 40 pitches, 32 for strikes, and got 11 swings-and-misses.

“That’s about as good as you’re gonna see in a spring training,” Cash said. “Super efficient. Strike-throwing was outstanding. Anytime you get the strike-throwing and the stuff going in a high level, you’re going to have a good outing, and that’s what we saw (Friday).:

In two spring outings, Springs has not allowed a hit or a baserunner.

Game details; Braves 3, Rays 2

Tristan Gray caught the eyes of Rays brass with his bat earlier this spring, but his defense was what stood out to Cash on Friday: “He made some nice plays. He’s a good player.” The scouting report from 2022 Triple-A Durham manager Brady Williams had Cash impressed as well. “Brady describes him as just extremely dependable. He was pretty clutch last year for them to come up with some big hits. Obviously, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark and the versatility helps. It’s going to continue to keep him as an option.” Charlie Culberson had an RBI single, and minor-league catcher Gavin Collins homered. … In his first trip back to the Trop since he was waived by the Rays and became a free agent in the fall, Nick Anderson picked up the win for the Braves, striking out two in a scoreless inning.

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WDAE radio (620-AM/95.3-FM) will broadcast Saturday’s game against the Marlins from Jupiter, the first since the sudden death of longtime Rays broadcaster Dave Wills on Sunday. The pregame show will be a remembrance of Wills, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

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