PORT CHARLOTTE (620 WDAE) -- It may be his first spring on the 40-man roster, but pitcher Austin Pruitt has impressed the coaching staff to the point that they'll give him the ball to start Spring Training games.
Manager Kevin Cash announced Tuesday that Pruitt will be the starting pitcher for Tampa Bay when they travel to Fort Myers Friday evening to take on the Minnesota Twins.
"He threw live BP on day one [Sunday] that was as good as any big-league live BP I've ever seen," Cash said Tuesday making the announcement. "And he was throwing to some good hitters. He had the core of our lineup sitting right there facing him. He attacked the strike zone, pitched to the edges. The reports on him from Kyle Snyder, his pitching coach in Durham last year were he's the least you have to worry about getting rattled. He controls what he needs to control, and just to maintain that."
Being so close to the big leagues may make some players start to put undue stress on themselves, but Pruitt is keeping focused on the big picture.
"It's still the same game that I've been playing since I was five years old," Pruitt said. "Everyone's a little bit better, obviously, but it's the same game."
The right-hander said he's just working on the aspects of his game that could help most if the call comes from him to join the big club, which the front office knows from years of experience throughout the developmental process.
"A like guy like Pruitt, who's developed through our system, we know him," general manager Erik Neader told me. "We're not going to jump to judgment on February 20th, March 1st, March 15th or even March 30th. We know who he is, what's gotten him to this point, what he has to work on, and we're going to stay pretty true to that."
Listen to manager Kevin Cash's comments from Tuesday!
LONGORIA MISSES SECOND STRAIGHT DAY: Third baseman Evan Longoria was once again not at practice, as the training staff sent him home sick.
Friday at MIN (7:00 ON WDAE) - Austin Pruitt (start), Jacob Faria, Ryan Garton, Diego Moreno, Ryne Stanek, Hunter Wood, Jose Alvarado, Jeff Walters
Saturday vs PIT (1:00 ON WDAE) - David Carpenter (start), Dana Eveland, Danny Farquhar, Cory Rasmus, Justin Marks, Jaime Schulz, Neil Wagner, Taylor Guerrieri
Sunday vs BOS (1:00 ON WDAE) - Chris Archer (start), Chase Whitley, Kevin Gadea, Chih-Wei Hu, Ryan Yarborough, Jeff Ames, Andrew Kittredge
Listen to pitchers Chris Archer and Alex Colome discuss their live batting practice sessions from Tuesday!