Rays’ Tyler Glasnow did some good, some not in debut

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Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times
·4 min read
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PORT CHARLOTTE — Tyler Glasnow said his 1-2/3-inning spring debut Monday felt better than it looked.

Though he walked three of his last four hitters and threw only 20 of his 35 pitches for strikes, Glasnow said the important things were feeling healthy, getting back into a competitive situation and trying out his new slider, which he hopes to pair with a changeup as alternatives to his dominant fastball and curve.

Glasnow said he threw the slider four or five times and mostly got it where he wanted in the 6-5 loss to the Twins. “It felt pretty good,” he said. “Still got to get more consistent with the release point, but threw some for strikes. … It’s starting to feel pretty good.”

Glasnow, the Rays’ top returning starter, zipped through a three-batter, 10-pitch first inning, hitting 100 mph, per the Charlotte Sports Park scoreboard, three times in his first six pitches.

But he gave up a homer to open the second inning, on a 98 mph fastball to Brent Rooker. He followed that with two strikeouts but then allowed a walk, a single, a walk on four pitches (all 98-99 mph) and another walk before being lifted.

“His first inning was outstanding,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He was around the zone. It wasn’t, like, errant, spraying balls all over the place. But we’ll fine-tune that. ‘Glas,’ he knows that it just doesn’t work that way.”

Game details

Prospect Xavier Edwards, who replaced injured Joey Wendle in the first, took advantage of his opportunity with a two-run single. Yandy Diaz had an RBI single, and non-roster catcher Brett Sullivan added a two-run, ground-rule double. … Centerfielder Brett Phillips made a pretty good play with a sliding catch to start the game. … Shortstop Taylor Walls, whom some Rays staff feel is the best defender of their trove of middle infield prospects, showed his athleticism on a double play to end the third, fielding the ball, crossing second and making a jump throw. … Attendance was again 1,127, considered “full capacity” amid the distancing restrictions and protocols.

Cash okay with Whitley’s anthem decision

Cash said he was “totally okay” with minor-league outfielder Garrett Whitley’s decision to kneel during the national anthem Sunday to draw attention to social justice issues.

“We know Garrett Whitley probably a little bit better than you guys do, and his teammates (do, too),” Cash said before Monday’s game. “Just a special guy, special person. The way he handled it was extremely professional. He walked in, he talked to the guys and a couple of the staff, and I think a couple of his teammates, and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this on my mind.’

“It’s something that he cares a lot about, he’s passionate about, and we’re going to support him and his decisions.”

Whitley knelt again Monday, though it was not as obvious since the teams were not on the foul line as for Sunday’s opener. He told Cash he hadn’t decided if he would do so for all games.

Whitley said Sunday that part of his reasoning was to make sure conversations on the issue kept going.

“I think that’s a very good perspective,” Cash said. “There was a lot of work done by the Players Alliance, MLB, the Black Lives Matter (movement) last year. We don’t want to gain the ground we did last year as an industry and take a step back. So the more conversations that we can have internally, we’re going to be better for it. And if that’s a side of what Garrett did to get conversation going in the clubhouse, good for him.”

Miscellany

* First baseman Ji-Man Choi resumed full work after sitting out Saturday due to right knee soreness and is slated to make his exhibition debut Wednesday.

* Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, slowed by hip tightness, took batting practice Monday and will face live pitching for the first time Tuesday, though he likely won’t play his first game until next week as the Rays want to be cautious. “We have to protect him against himself sometimes,” hitting coach Chad Mottola said.

* Veteran starters Chris Archer and Rich Hill threw their first live batting practice Sunday and could move into game action next.

* The Twins’ traveling party included coach Bill Evers, the former longtime Rays coach, who had to work from his Palm Harbor home last season due to coronavirus concerns. “It’s wonderful to be back,” Evers said from a distance.