Colby impresses, Healy signs, Kluber throws

March 20th, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Taking the mound to start the Rays’ 3-0 loss to the Twins on Sunday afternoon at Hammond Stadium, relief prospect admitted he was nervous. After all, it was his first time pitching in a Major League Spring Training game.

“Just to be on the field and play against those guys and get to compete against them, to say the least, is unbelievable,” White said. “Something as a kid that you dream about.”

Funny thing is, White was probably even closer to The Show late last season.

The hard-throwing right-hander flew through Tampa Bay’s Minor League system in 2021, pitching at all four full-season levels from Single-A to Triple-A. He finished the year at the Rays’ alternate training site, where the club kept a handful of players in reserve in case it decided to add them to the roster in September or for the American League Division Series.

And White’s name, manager Kevin Cash said, became “a big discussion point.” The Rays didn’t wind up promoting White for a fourth and final time last year, but he put himself on the big league staff’s radar despite starting the season at Single-A Charleston. And he knew he was just one call away in the end.

“It almost sounded too good to be true, but then when I was standing around big leaguers [at the alternate site], I'm like, ‘Well, maybe this could happen,’” White said. “It was a ton of anxiousness. I really wanted to get in there, and obviously everything happens for a reason and all that.”

White reported to Minor League Spring Training again this year, and he remained on that side of the Charlotte Sports Park Complex even when the lockout ended and big league camp opened. But White was brought up to pitch in a Grapefruit League game Sunday afternoon, and once he got past his nerves and stopped rushing through his delivery, he worked around two walks and struck out Twins first baseman Alex Kirilloff in a scoreless inning.

“He settled in,” Cash said. “Took him a little longer than probably he wanted to make the adjustment, but once he did, you can see why we talk so much about him.”

The 23-year-old throws a fastball in the mid to upper 90s that plays well at the top of the strike zone, a slider he sharpened last season and a splitter he has been refining this spring. Those pitches carried him through a dominant season, as he posted a 1.44 ERA and 0.66 WHIP with 104 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings over 43 appearances for all four of the Rays’ full-season affiliates.

“It was unbelievable, honestly,” White said. “I never would have thought it would have ended that way, and it was fun. I learned a ton.

“Obviously, I’ve got to get better. Today's outing, I wasn't too pleased with it. And for me, it's just battling -- me being where my feet are every day and just getting better, not looking too far into the future. And whatever happens, happens. I'll be thankful just to be playing the game.”

Roster rumblings
• The Rays have agreed to a Minor League contract with first/third baseman , as first reported by FanSided. Whenever the deal is made official, Healy will report to Major League Spring Training. Healy, 30, spent parts of five seasons in the Majors with the A’s, Mariners and Brewers from 2016-20 and played last year with the Korean Baseball Organization’s Hanwha Eagles, batting .257/.306/.394 over 67 games.

The Rays have been on the lookout for a right-handed hitter capable of playing first base, which is Healy’s profile, although it’s possible he’ll be more of a depth option to start the season. Healy’s overall .261/.298/.450 slash line in the big leagues grades out to roughly league-average production, but he showed real power at the plate by slugging 62 homers in 354 games from 2016-18.

Recently acquired outfielder is expected to report to Rays camp on Monday. Cash said the Rays are excited about his power at the plate and his defense in the outfield corners, and they will likely give him some more time at first base.

Camp notes
• Right-hander threw two “innings” of live batting practice on Sunday morning at Charlotte Sports Park, then extended his workload by facing two batters in a third “inning,” bringing his pitch count to 39 on the day. Relievers and also faced hitters in live BP. Kluber and catcher Francisco Mejía worked with the same PitchCom pitch-calling technology that pitcher Phoenix Sanders and catcher Mike Zunino used in Saturday’s game.

Kluber is tentatively scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s game against the Red Sox, at which point he should be up to three innings or 40-45 pitches. His performance, in pitching coach Kyle Snyder’s view, already looks ready for Opening Day.

“Midseason,” Snyder said. “His stuff's midseason right now."

took five at-bats in live BP, continuing his progression toward game action after easing into camp due to a stiff neck.

Up next
Left-hander will pitch in his first game in 19 months on Monday afternoon, starting the Rays’ 1:05 p.m. ET contest against the Pirates at Charlotte Sports Park. Beeks has impressed the Rays this spring in his return from Tommy John surgery, and his ability to work multiple innings should give him a chance to crack the Opening Day bullpen.

Most of the Rays’ regular position players are scheduled to be in Monday’s lineup. The game will air on Bally Sports Sun and MLB.TV, and a Rays radio broadcast will be available on