BRADENTON — Two of the leading candidates for the No. 5 spot in the Rays rotation had vastly different results on Friday.
Yonny Chirinos had an impressive outing, working into an unscheduled fourth inning against the Pirates because of his effectiveness and efficiency. He allowed one hit and one walk in throwing 43 pitches over 3 1/3 innings, throwing 29 strikes (nine swing-and-misses) and hitting 96 mph with his fastball.
“Yonny, to me, was kind of the bright spot,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He looked really, really good. …. Stuff was really, really powerful.”
Luis Patino, conversely, struggled with control of his breaking pitches, hitting three batters, walking one and allowing five hits, including home runs to ex-mate Ji-Man Choi and Canaan Smith-Njigba, in throwing 60 pitches (39 strikes) to get five outs.
Patino said it wasn’t as bad of an outing as it appeared. “It was a weird game but I felt really good,” he said. “I felt really good with my execution of the pitches but a couple times I missed it. That can happen in spring training, and it showed me what I need to improve and make adjustments on for the season.”
Cash agreed, noting the team is encouraged with how Patino is throwing, noting he was up to 98 mph.
“We’re encouraged," Cash said. “You want him to have success just for his own psyche now. I think we’re pretty pleased with how the ball is coming out and the stuff that he’s working on."
Lefty Josh Fleming is the other top candidate. A decision isn’t expected until close to opening day.
Manzardo making good impression
Cash has been extremely impressed by prospect Kyle Manzardo, the sweet swinging first baseman drafted in 2021 who advanced to Double-A last season and was named the organization’s minor-league player of the year. “He’s really opened eyes everywhere he’s been. He’s hit everywhere, and he’s just kind of justified it that much more in the spring," Cash said. “Really, really impressed with how he gets in the box and finds a way to get the barrel to it and drive the ball to all fields."
Game details: Pirates 6, Rays 2
The Rays (11-9-1) were down 5-0 early, then got home runs from Luke Raley — his fourth of the spring — and non-roster catcher Logan Driscoll. Raley knew his shot off lefty Angel Perdomo was wind blown but didn’t care: “As I’ve always said, all home runs are created equal. I’ll take them any way I can get them." … Reliever Calvin Faucher allowed a homer to minor-leaguer Mason Martin, but Cash continued to be impressed with his work: “His stuff was stupid good." ... The Rays were held to three hits.
Catcher Francisco Mejia rejoined the Rays, having played in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic team that was ousted on Wednesday. Shortstop Wander Franco and coaches Rodney Linares and Jonathan Erlichman are expected over the weekend, as is Harold Ramirez, who played for Colombia. Pitchers Trevor Brigden (Canada), Andrew Gross (Israel), Joe LaSorsa (Italy) and Graham Spraker (Great Britain) will all head straight to minor-league camp at Disney. … The Bally Rays season preview show debuts Saturday, following coverage of the game vs. Boston, with repeats over the next two weeks. ... Lefty Shane McClanahan, the expected opening day starter, will be on the mound Saturday against the Red Sox. ... Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena was named MVP of Pool C in the World Baseball Classic for his play for Mexico and was honored before Friday’s quarterfinal against Puerto Rico.
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