PORT CHARLOTTE (WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays held their third full-squad workout Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park, with pitchers Charlie Morton and Blake Snell among those throwing live batting practice sessions.
For Snell, it's about rebounding from a 2019 season that seemed to get derailed every time things started to come into focus. The 2018 Cy Young Award winner dealt with illness during last spring, then broke a toe in an accident in his home early in the regular season before surgery to remove loose bodies in his left elbow after the All-Star Game caused him to miss two months.
"All I care about right now is being healthy," Snell said. It was my first time being hurt (last year). Coming into spring I’m a lot more focused, I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m happy with the direction that I’m going. I just need more hitters in the box to let me know where I’m at, how I feel. Today being the first day of batters, that was better than I anticipated. My first live is always pretty bad, so for it to feel good and for me to be comfortable with hitters in the box, that’s exciting."
Manager Kevin Cash echoed how good Snell looked during batting practice.
"He looked awesome, him and Charlie both," Cash said. "Blake has had a little bit of a confidence this spring when he came down. It looked like he put some weight in his lower half to get stronger. It looked really easy today, he really committed to fine-tuning."
Morton threw an extended session Thursday, and according to Cash, he looks ready to pick up where he left off in 2019.
"The ball is coming out really good," the Rays manager pointed out. "Charlie kind of looked like midseason form. He buckles you with some of those breaking balls even when you’re not in the box."
STARTERS NAMED FOR THIS WEEKEND'S GAMES: Cash confirmed that RHP Trevor Richards will get the start in Saturday's Grapefruit League opener against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, while LHP Ryan Yarbrough will get the start Sunday back in Port Charlotte against the Yankees. Both games will be heard on 95.3 WDAE, with coverage beginning at 12:00 with The Inside Pitch.
TSUTSUGO TO MAKE DEBUT SUNDAY: While he won't make the trip to Fort Myers, Yoshi Tsutsugo will get his first taste of Grapefruit League action this weekend. Cash said he is scheduled to hit fifth and play left field on Sunday against the Yankees, and will DH Monday at home against Boston.
FRIDAY'S PRACTICE SHORT: The team will hold its final full-squad practice on Friday, but don't expect the players to be out on the fields long. The Rays are scheduled to get out on the field at 10:30, with no pitchers throwing bullpen sessions on the back fields. Position players will practice pop-ups and relays, but are extected to be off the field before noon.
Listen to comments from Cash and Snell below!