ST. PETERSBURG -- Every time C.J. Cron homers, he sets a new career high. Yet the Rays' first baseman is having a tough time finding regular playing time at this point of the season.When asked to characterize Cron's season, Rays manager Kevin Cash answered: "He's had a good season."Unfortunately for
ST. PETERSBURG -- Every time C.J. Cron homers, he sets a new career high. Yet the Rays' first baseman is having a tough time finding regular playing time at this point of the season.
When asked to characterize Cron's season, Rays manager Kevin Cash answered: "He's had a good season."
Unfortunately for Cron, he plays for a team that is not in contention, which means the Rays must do what they need to do to prepare for the future.
"And right now [Cron's season has] gotten to a point where it's a delicate situation," Cash said. "I understand that. I've tried to talk with C.J. The conversations have gone well. I've been honest with him.
"There are players on this roster right now that we want to get some looks at. In fairness to [Cron], [those looks] are going to come at the expense of some of [Cron's] at-bats. But they're going to come at the expense of a lot of guys' at-bats."
Cash noted that Cron still leads the team in several categories, and he added that he will continue to get plenty of at-bats. However ...
"The consistency of going out there for 10 straight games is probably not going to happen," Cash said. "It's not ideal for any player, especially in a situation where he's trying to have a good season, get his numbers and ultimately make some money. I recognize that, and it's very sensitive."
Matt Duffy did not start Tuesday against the Royals. The Rays' third baseman has been in a little bit of a funk lately. After Monday night, Duffy had hit .202 with a double and five RBIs in 25 games since the All-Star break, lowering his season average from .317 to .291.
Duffy missed the entire 2017 season with a heel problem.
"I think in fairness [to Duffy], he's not going to admit to this, but taking a year off, we're getting to the dog days of the season," Cash said. "That's something I have to recognize. That's why he's not playing today. I'm going to do a better job of giving him some planned days off.
"That's tough to do when he's hit .300 for us all year, and he's been such a big part of our team."
Tampa Bay's pitching has been exceptionally good lately, even though the way the Rays have been doing things has been unconventional to say the least: using late-inning relievers to start games, and starters to come in after the "openers."
"The buy-in is where it needs to be," said Cash, when asked for an explanation of the staff's success. "And I think everybody takes the mound with the idea, 'I've got a role to do. I'm not getting into the sixth inning, the fifth inning. I'm going to pitch as long as they ask me to pitch. And I'm going to do everything I can to be as efficient, and get as many outs as possible, then hand it over to the next guy.' There is no ego whatsoever."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.