BALTIMORE — The Rays marked last year’s Roberto Clemente Day in a historic, albeit unplanned, way by becoming the first team to start a lineup of hitters all from Latin American countries.
“That was actually really cool, and what an honor to be able to be a part of that,” manager Kevin Cash said Friday. “There are not many things that I have hung up in my office; that lineup card and that picture with all those guys is one of them. That was pretty special.”
Though not as noteworthy, the Rays again made a strong showing of support again for this year’s event, with more than a dozen players and several coaches wearing Clemente’s No. 21 on Friday.
MLB planned to allow only players from Clemente’s native Puerto Rico and past and present Clemente award candidates to wear 21. But, like last year, the Rays’ full group of Latino players (none of whom are from Puerto Rico) wanted to participate.
“We have a very strong Latin connection here with a lot of our position players group,” Cash said. “I’m certain that Roberto Clemente means a lot to them, and he means a lot to all of us.”
Clubhouse/equipment manager Tyler Wall made it work by ordering the additional No. 21 jerseys.
“It’s not up to me to say no to the players,” he said. “It’s a matter of them wanting to honor Roberto Clemente.”
Designated hitter Harold Ramirez, a Colombian, said paying tribute was significant.
“That’s very important for us,” he said. “He was a very good player and a very good person. He liked to help people. He’s very important for everybody in baseball and outside baseball.”
In addition to the Latino players, pitchers Aaron Civale, Jake Diekman and Zach Eflin wore 21, as did coaches Rodney Linares (bench), Chris Prieto (first base) and Brady Williams (third base).
Assistant hitting coach Brady North wore custom-designed Clemente shoes as a nod to his wife, Yaidi, who is from Puerto Rico, and their two sons, Hanley and Kenley.
All players wore a No. 21 patch on their jerseys.
Adam progressing well
Reliever Jason Adam, out since late August with an oblique strain, is progressing toward a potential return before the Oct. 1 end of the regular season. Cash said Adam was doing “awesome,” “had a really good bullpen session” Wednesday and will throw again on Saturday. If all goes well and his velocity is good, Adam could advance to facing hitters at instructional league next week.
With Jake Diekman working the eighth inning and Chris Devenski the ninth, the Rays extended their bullpen scoreless streak to 19-1/3 innings. They also extended the streak without allowing an earned run to 36 innings, just shy of the the franchise record of 37-2/3, spanning the 2010-2011 seasons.
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Brandon Lowe hit his 20th homer of the season and said he was proud of the accomplishment, having missed time earlier this year with a back issue: “To overcome the injuries and stuff like that that kind of took a little bit of the year away, to get to 20 it’s still extremely impressive.” ... The Rays are 72-22 when scoring first and 80-21 when scoring four or more runs. ... Harold Ramirez had 20 career hits as a pinch-hitter before Friday and added his first pinch-hit homer. ... The weather for Sunday’s series finale looks a bit concerning, with afternoon showers forecast. ... Class A Charleston (S.C.) beat Myrtle Beach 18-4 to advance to a third straight Carolina League Championship Series, facing the Down East Wood Ducks in a best-of-three matchup.
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