PORT CHARLOTTE (620 WDAE) -- After missing a couple of days due to mid-back tightness, pitcher Jose De Leon took the mound Friday at Charlotte Sports Park to throw his first bullpen session of Spring Training.
Manager Kevin Cash said that De Leon looked just like he did when throwing bullpen sessions at Tropicana Field, noting that the 24-year-old added some weight during the offseason after dropping down below 200 pounds last year.
"To me, he looks like a starting pitcher," Cash said. "Just that big, strong legs and looser upper body."
De Leon explained that when pitching in extended spring training in 2014, he lost about 25 pounds and saw an increase in his velocity, but after dropping down to 190 pounds, he couldn't keep his velocity above 90 miles per hour.
"This off-season, I changed my workouts a little bit, tried to maintain my weight, and didn't lose any," De Leon said. "I feel way stronger. Last year, I felt I was in better shape than I've been in my life, but it's not about looking good or outrunning anyone. It's about throwing hard and throwing strikes."
Listen to De Leon's comments below!
ERASMO ON TRACK FOR SATURDAY: Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, who tweaked his left hamstring while playing first base Tuesday, threw on flat ground for the second straight day. Cash said that he expects Ramirez to throw a bullpen session Saturday.
MILLER HAS "BOUGHT IN" AT SECOND: Cash also mentioned that the team plans to give infielder Brad Miller "as many reps as we can at second base" this spring.
"He is up for the challenge," Cash said. "We had a conversation before he got here. We had a conversation [Thursday]. Brad Miller has bought in, and is all bout the team. He'll do whatever, but we think for our team this spring, we need to get him as acclimated as possible at second base.
The Rays manager said Miller will still see time at shortstop due to his familiarity and for versatility, but the team is looking for him to be the normal double-play partner of Matt Duffy, who Tampa Bay acquired at the trade deadline last season.
Listen to Cash's comments below!