ST. PETERSBURG — So much for the drama.
Major League Baseball wanted to create intrigue and excitement by having all 30 teams announce opening day starters at the same time this spring, but it wasn’t much of a reveal in Tampa Bay.
While the news became official on Friday, Rays manager Kevin Cash had told Shane McClanahan back in the first week of spring training that he would be starting March 30 against the Tigers at Tropicana Field.
Even at 25 years old, there’s already a been-there, done-that quality to McClanahan’s career. He was Tampa Bay’s opening day starter in 2022, went on to start the All Star Game for the American League three months later and then pitched Game 1 of the Wild Card series against Cleveland in October.
He may be getting used to the honors, but McClanahan is no less appreciative.
“I’m pretty humbled by it,” McClanahan said. “I feel like so far in my career I’ve done a lot of special things. And hopefully those things continue to happen and (I) continue to work hard and do the right thing and let it all fall into place.”
McClanahan prepped for the assignment with a six-inning outing against Tigers minor leaguers in Lakeland on Friday.
“He’s extremely deserving, just with what he’s meant to us and how he performed last year, the work that he’s put in this offseason,” Cash said. “Shane’s a very motivated guy that has come in even more motivated. It’s an honor to be able to say, ‘Go out and start opening day for us.’
“You look at opening day starters in this organization the last decade or so — pretty impressive group.”
McClanahan joins Chris Archer, David Price, James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Wilson Alvarez as pitchers with more than one opening day start in Tampa Bay history.
“There are so many great guys on the staff that are willing and are deserving,” McClanahan said. “To get the nod just means a lot to me.”
John Romano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @romano_tbtimes.
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