ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Cash had some help answering questions from the media on Friday. Sitting beside him was Austin Majors, who spent the afternoon with the Rays manager and his team as part of his “dream day” at Tropicana Field.
Majors, 19, of Holiday was born with a congenital heart defect called Ebstein’s anomaly. At 3 months old, he received a heart transplant. He was later diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, autism, scoliosis and epilepsy, and is deaf in one ear.
In partnership with the Children’s Dream Fund, the Rays fulfilled Majors’ wish to meet Cash.
“I’d like to be a baseball manager,” Majors told reporters. “Every day, I like baseball. I’m pretty good at baseball.”
Majors met with president of baseball operations Erik Neander to sign a symbolic one-day contract and spent the pregame hours in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field.
“He’s met Yandy (Diaz). He’s met (Tyler Glasnow). He’s met Randy (Arozarena). There’s been a bunch of guys that he’s been able to interact with,” Cash said. “We took him around the clubhouse. We took him into the food room, the training room, the weight room, and the batting cage.”
Majors gave the Rays something in return.
“After (Thursday) night, he gave some of our hitters some pointers so we can do better,” Cash said, joking about the team’s’ anemic offense in a 1-0 loss to the Mariners.
State of the game
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made his annual visit to the Trop, speaking with the Rays and Mariners for about 30-40 minutes before Friday’s game. Tampa Bay union rep Tyler Glasnow said topics ranged from the state of the game in terms of popularity to the rules changes that were implemented before the season.
“I think there are different views all over the league and stuff, but I think, like, overall I think, like, viewership is up, attendance I am pretty sure is up,” Glasnow said. “The games are shorter. I think what they want to accomplish, they accomplished. I think as far as, like, everyone’s personal opinion, it probably varies. I’m not sure.
“... I think there’s been a lot of good stuff and some, like, some growing pains maybe in the beginning. But I think overall the rule changes in my personal opinion are, like, pretty easy to deal with.”
Glasnow said Manfred was not asked about and did not address Rays shortstop Wander Franco, who is on administrative while multiple investigations continue into allegations of inappropriate relationships with one or more minors.
Nor did the topic of the Rays’ future in Tampa Bay and their stadium come up, Glasnow said.
Pitcher Shane McClanahan was the Rays’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for his work with Buddy Baseball. McClanahan has volunteered with and donated to the non-competitive recreational baseball league serving the Tampa Bay community for boys and girls ages 8 to 22 with unique abilities.
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The lefty continues to visit Buddy Baseball’s fields and pitch to the kids during games. He has also worked with Rays corporate partner Kahwa Coffee to direct a portion of proceeds to benefit the Buddy Baseball organization. In 2022, he donated $2,500, matched by the MLBPA, toward their fundraising for an accessible picnic shelter between their fields.
Manuel Margot, who is on the injured list after surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow, ran bases before the game. Cash said Margot will head out on a rehab assignment soon. ... Pete Fairbanks struck out the side — and walked a batter — while pitching the ninth inning of the Rays’ 7-4 win, picking up his 21st save of the season. He improved to 21-for-23 in save opportunities. ... Taj Bradley went a career-high 6-1/3 innings, most by a Rays rookie since McClanahan on Aug. 7, 2021.
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