Faria enters camp fighting for bullpen spot

Righty looks to re-establish himself after disappointing '18

February 15th, 2019
KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 16: Starting pitcher Jacob Faria #34 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during the 1st inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on May 16, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)Jamie Squire/Getty Images

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After a disappointing 2018, is looking to show that last season isn't reflective of the type of pitcher he is.

"Last year wasn't who I really am," Faria said. "A lot of articles have pretty much given up on me as a player and I just want to go out there and prove people wrong."

Faria moved to Las Vegas over the winter and his offseason consisted of waking up at 4:15 a.m. in order to get into the gym around 5 a.m. before finishing off his morning by throwing a bullpen session.

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The main priority for Faria was to get in better shape. He checked in at about 225 pounds ahead of Spring Training, which is down 15 pounds from what he was at the beginning of camp last season.

"I was huge," Faria said. "Last year, I just didn't feel good at any point. I wasn't in pain, but I didn't feel good physically. This year it was all about getting to a point where I just feel good physically."

The 2018 season was a tough one for Faria. He came into the year as the Rays' No. 3 starter, but he was never able to get into a rhythm on the mound. The year began with him allowing eight runs during an April 7 start against Boston. He showed flashes of why the Rays were high on him coming into the season in his April 30 start against Detroit, where he pitched eight scoreless innings, but after straining his left oblique, Faria missed more than two months after being placed on the injured list on May 23. He ultimately finished the season with a 5.40 ERA.

"I think last offseason, I didn't go into it with the best mental state," Faria said in September. "Kind of already thinking that I had a job and that I'll be fine. That kind of stuck in the back of my mind all year."

Pitching coach Kyle Snyder made it a point to make it out to Las Vegas to see Faria work out.

"I was really encouraged with what I saw in Vegas and even more encouraged with what I saw [on Wednesday]," Snyder said. "I understand that he's not happy with how last season went and he's motivated to get into this year and correct a lot of things."

Faria entered Spring Training last season as one of the pitchers that was a lock for the Opening Day roster. This year, however, Faria is looking to compete with the rest of the pitching staff for the remaining spots in the bullpen.

"It's really about being available whenever they call on you," Faria said. "That's the big thing. I know that if I'm healthy, if I stay strong and just take care of myself, that stuff on the field will take of itself."

Snyder knows that Faria still has work to do before he gets back to where he was in 2017. That season, Faria finished with a 3.43 ERA and established himself as one of the promising young pitchers in the organization. If he can return to that form, the Rays have yet another arm they can trust either to start or to come out of the bullpen.

"I'm really pleased right now with where he is," Snyder said. "He's really close to where he was in '17. Now we're going to continue to work on that and refine that."