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Pagan working to develop off-speed pitches

Snell, Morton throw bullpen sessions; Roe participates in limited workout
February 14, 2019

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The signing of Charlie Morton and the acquisition of Mike Zunino headlined the offseason moves for the Rays, but one of the most under-the-radar moves came when Tampa Bay acquired right-hander Emilio Pagán from the Athletics in a three-way deal with Oakland and Texas.Pagan, 27, had

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The signing of Charlie Morton and the acquisition of Mike Zunino headlined the offseason moves for the Rays, but one of the most under-the-radar moves came when Tampa Bay acquired right-hander Emilio Pagán from the Athletics in a three-way deal with Oakland and Texas.
Pagan, 27, had a 4.35 ERA in 55 appearances for the Athletics last season, when the right-hander struck out 63 over 62 innings and limited right-handed hitters to a .196 batting average.
As Pagan enters his first Spring Training with the Rays, he's looking to prove that he can perform well against hitters on either side of the plate.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
"I know there's a lot of talk about how I've done well against righties," Pagan said. "But with the way we use openers, if I can go out there and face lefties too, and hopefully get two or three out, I think that would be ideal."
In order to get better results against lefties -- who hit .296 against Pagan in 2018 -- he's looking to develop another off-speed pitch this spring. He's mostly a fastball pitcher who likes to mix in a slider, but he's working with pitching coach Kyle Snyder on a 12-6 curveball and a slider.
"The last year and a half, I've really been a two-pitch guy, and I didn't like it," Pagan said. "It got me to the big leagues so I ran with it, but big league hitters make adjustments."
Manager Kevin Cash met with Pagan on Wednesday in order to get a better understanding of him as a pitcher and a person. Pagan was one of the pitchers who threw a bullpen session Thursday and Cash came away impressed with what he saw.
"I heard when we acquired him that he had a chance to do some special things," Cash said. "In the first bullpen, the breaking ball and everything looked really crisp. That was good to see."
Like many of the Rays' relief options, Pagan will be used in different roles, including as an opener.
Blake Snell, Morton take the mound
Snell and Morton had their first bullpen session of the spring, and new catcher Zunino caught them both.

"Any time that Blake throws is exciting," Cash said. "I've seen [Morton] throw a couple of bullpens. He looks good."
Wilmer Font is fully healthy
Font was one of last season's surprises for the Rays. After he was acquired from the Athletics in May, Font went 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in nine appearances for Tampa Bay. His impressive performance even earned him a spot in the rotation until he suffered a lat strain that ended his season in late June.
The right-hander worked out and threw at Tropicana Field during the offseason, but Thursday was the first time Font was able to throw an official bullpen session since his injury.
"Excellent bullpen session. All my pitches felt good," he said. "I was mostly focusing on keeping all my pitches inside the zone. Just looking for better control. I'll focus on the rest during the games."
Chaz Roe injury update
Roe is the only pitcher on the roster who hasn't been able to throw since camp officially began Tuesday. He was dealing with an illness and a strained muscle in his back, but he said Thursday he believes he'll be back in a couple of days.
"Everything feels good," Roe said. "I haven't been able to throw yet, and I'm not sure when that's going to happen, but I'm cleared today to do a little bit of activity."
Almost complete
The Rays entered Thursday with 58 of the 66 players in attendance even though hitters are not required to report until Sunday. With Daniel Robertson arriving Thursday, Tampa Bay is waiting on just seven more players: Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Díaz, Lucius Fox, Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Lowe, Tommy Pham and Jesus Sanchez. All are expected to arrive by Sunday's report date.

"It shows the willingness and the drive that the players have and they're coming in ready," Cash said. "We have guys that -- I'm glad we're not playing tomorrow -- but they're ready to play. They want to play."

** Juan Toribio ** covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.