ST. PETERSBURG — With just 18 games remaining in the regular season, the Rays have a unique chance to get a glimpse of the future. Of the contests left on their schedule, 13 are against teams in playoff contention.
So the Rays are not just looking at how they match up but also getting real-life advance scouting reports. Seeing a team like the Mariners, who they beat 6-3 on Sunday, or the Twins Monday-Wednesday gives Tampa Bay’s pitchers and hitters reps that could help them in playoff situations.
“100%,” outfielder Luke Raley said. “The reports only say so much. Getting actual reps against a guy is obviously a step above that, what the reports can even tell you.
“We came into the series knowing, like, this might be somebody, this might be a team we play in the playoffs, so let’s take it and remember what we see. I think it helps when you remember what the ball looks like coming out of a pitcher’s hand and what their pitch shape looks like and stuff like that.”
The Rays face the American League Central-leading Twins before heading to Baltimore to battle for the AL East title Thursday-Sunday. They have three games against the Angels, who are not in contention, and then host the Blue Jays (a game ahead of the Mariners for the second wild-card spot) in the final regular-season series at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay then travels to Boston for two games before finishing the regular season in Toronto.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said playing the Mariners so late in the season could be particularly helpful, since they don’t see them as much as the Orioles and Blue Jays.
“The more that we can find out about this team,” he said. “We know that the pitching is good. We don’t have a ton of reps against them, but we’re getting some reps right now and I’m guessing if we saw them in the postseason if we are both fortune enough to get there, we’re going to see a lot of these same guys.”
Sore Paredes sits out
As expected, Isaac Paredes was out of the lineup Sunday after being hit by a pitch on his right hand/wrist and leaving Saturday’s game early.
“He’s pretty sore,” Cash said. “He’ll continue to get treatment. We expected him to be sore. We’ll just see, take it day to day.”
Paredes has been hit by a pitch 20 times this season, second-most in the majors. Seattle’s Ty France has been hit 30 times.
It is not too surprising, considering how close Paredes sets up to the plate.
“You don’t want anybody to get hit,” Cash said. “Certainly, there was no intent right there. He does stand on the plate, and if you’re going to pitch inside to him, I think he’s proven as a hitter that you better get it inside because he handles the ball middle-in so well.
“So I understand the approach, but you hate when guys get hit and it affects them being available to play.”
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Paredes is one home run shy of joining Evan Longoria (33 in 2009) and Austin Meadows (33 in 2019) as the only Rays with 30-plus-homer seasons at age 24 or younger.
Outfielder Manuel Margot, on the injured list after surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow, is on target to head to Durham to begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday, Cash said. ... First baseman Yandy Diaz went 2-for-4 for his 47th multihit game of the season. ... Catcher Christian Bethancourt stole his first base since Aug. 16, 2022 against the Yankees.
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