Moderation is key for Rays pitcher Josh Fleming

Notebook | Also, prospect Carson Williams found himself getting advice from Twins All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa on the field .
Josh Fleming, seen here earlier this spring, got out to too fast of a start against the Twins on Tuesday, but settled down after the first inning.
Josh Fleming, seen here earlier this spring, got out to too fast of a start against the Twins on Tuesday, but settled down after the first inning. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published March 22

FORT MYERS — Josh Fleming may be the only pitcher who is trying to slow himself down this spring. The Rays lefty knows the difference between when he is throwing pitches with intent and when he is thinking too far ahead.

That’s what he said happened when he gave up a double to Byron Buxton and a homer to Carlos Correa to start the game Tuesday night against the Twins.

“I came in (and) I sat down, I was just talking to myself. I was like, ‘Dude, like, slow it down.’ I was getting ahead of myself. I was trying to work almost too fast. I like working fast, but again, like I said, I can work fast, but kind of keep the mind slow,” Fleming said.

After giving up the two runs in the first, he did strike out four in the Rays’ 5-2 loss at Hammond Stadium. In six spring training appearances, Fleming has pitched to a 4.91 ERA.

“I thought he competed really well,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I thought after the first two batters settled in, he threw the ball well. Flem is going to be a guy that gets a lot of contact, but hopefully it’s soft contact that could have spiraled out pretty quick and I think he did a nice job of settling down after the home run.”

With Tyler Glasnow out to start the season because of a strained oblique, this spring has been an audition for a chance to start in the rotation.

Keep at it, kid

Carson Williams, 19, thought it was surreal being on the field with big leaguers on Monday, but Tuesday night it became even more real. The Rays’ young shortstop prospect found himself standing next to Correa at second base during a slight delay. The Twins’ All-Star put his arm around Williams’ shoulder and offered some wisdom.

“I was telling him how it’s surreal to see these big leaguers in person because you only see him on TV and he was really cool about it,” Williams said. “He just asked me a couple questions about how I play the game and things and was giving me some advice.”

Related: Rays prospects Carson Williams, Junior Caminero get a taste of the majors

Williams made a tremendous play, going deep into the hole and firing a laser across to first, and he also made an error when Vidal Brujan couldn’t handle his shuttle throw.

But he made an impression on Correa.

“He said, ‘Get to the big leagues soon’ and then he said, ‘I’ll see you there;’ it was nice,” Williams said.

Game details: Twins 5, Rays 2

Luke Raley homered off Twins starter Sonny Gray. It was his fifth homer of spring training. The lefty-hitting slugger is out of options and fighting for one of the last spots on the roster. “He had a tremendous spring. We’re certainly happy for him,” Cash said. “Luke’s worked really, really hard and it’s continued to show and pay off, which ultimately that’s what you want to see, players have that success when they put the work in.” …..Rene Pinto also homered off Gray. … Pete Fairbanks threw a scoreless inning, striking out one. … Kevin Kelly struck out three in two scoreless innings.

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The Rays hope to have Isaac Paredes and Jonathan Aranda, who were on the Mexican World Baseball Classic team that lost in the semifinals Monday night, back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game. Randy Arozarena, who hit .450 for Mexico in the tournament, could be back after the Thursday’s off day.

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