TPR Notebook: Rays Versus Yankees
Notes and thoughts from yesterday’s game.
- Nate Karns was focused on locating his fastball and getting the feel for his changeup, which is the case for most pitchers at this point in spring. There were some blips, as you would expect for a pitcher whose command and changeup are his biggest negatives, but nothing too concerning. He should enter the season in the rotation and, if he progresses in either of those areas, he’s got middle-of-the-rotation potential.
- If this game is any indication, the Rays will continue their shift-happy ways under Kevin Cash. Also worth noting: Evan Longoria again toggled between “second base” and “shortstop” depending on the situation.
- Ernesto Frieri threw 34 regular-season changeups last year in 48 games. He threw consecutive changeups to begin one at-bat, then added another later. That’s a point of emphasis for him.
- Luke Maile is listed at 6-foot-3 and looks the part behind the plate. True to scouting reports, he appears polished back there as a receiver. He used his body to create better angles for the pitcher and umpire, and fired his legs out to block a ball in the dirt. The only thing not seen from Maile was a throw, but that’s okay. Don’t be surprised if he’s the backup catcher this time next year.
- Nick Franklin. Who knows.
- Boog Powell is built differently than you’d expect; more Brett Gardner than Ty Morrison, or not tall and lanky but smaller and thicker. His strengths are supposed to be speed and on-base skills, and both showed. He took a four-pitch walk in his first plate appearance and didn’t swing until the eighth pitch he’d seen on the day, which was a 2-1 fastball. He’d later strike out, but it came on a pitch that may have nicked the zone.
- Two things that aren’t supposed to be strengths for Powell: baserunning savvy and arm strength. He showed some of the former by scoring from second on a throwing error. It wasn’t just that he scored, but that he had the wherewithal to stall on a ground ball to third, thus forcing the third baseman to either pursue him for the easy out and give up his double-play aspirations, or make a throw and try to turn a difficult twin-killing. Alas, not everything was a pleasant surprise; Powell’s substandard arm showed as he made a poor throw to the plate, leading to the ball ricocheting off the backstop.
- Kirby Yates has a new look—longer hair, shaggier beard—and struggled to complete an inning against minor-league competition. Coincidence?
- Daniel Robertson appeared but didn’t get to do much. He was hit by a pitch on the hand during his first tip to the plate, and later he struck out swinging to end the game and lost his grip on the bat, causing it to sail into the stands. Otherwise, his highlight of the day was hustling out of the box on a foul ball.
- Robertson’s jawline could slice bread.