ST. PETERSBURG -- Count Kevin Cash among Joey Wendle's biggest fans. The Rays' manager believes Wendle belongs in the American League Rookie of the Year conversation.When asked why he believes Wendle should be a strong contender, Cash replied: "I think just his performance alone.""We've asked him, we've challenged him in
ST. PETERSBURG -- Count Kevin Cash among Joey Wendle's biggest fans. The Rays' manager believes Wendle belongs in the American League Rookie of the Year conversation.
When asked why he believes Wendle should be a strong contender, Cash replied: "I think just his performance alone."
"We've asked him, we've challenged him in so many different ways, and he's risen up to it every single time," Cash said. "The defense has been outstanding. The way he approaches his at-bats. The big hits he's gotten. Very, very consistent. ... His stats speak for themselves. He's definitely warranted in that conversation."
Cash allowed that Wendle had "about a 2-3 week lull there where he got very quiet offensively." But even then, it was "because balls weren't falling. It wasn't because he wasn't hitting balls hard."
Cash paid Wendle the ultimate compliment when he told reporters that Wendle "plays the game how you would want your entire team to play."
"How you would want your entire organization to play," Cash said. "Not one time have you ever questioned, or scratched your head at his effort level. ... He really sets the tone for us."
Cash was asked his opinion of Wendle's competition, including Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar and Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.
"Special players," Cash said of both. "Andujar. You're not a fan when he comes to the plate, I know that. You watch what he does. He's had some big hits against us. Super talented young player who really likes to hit. I don't think there's one way to get him out.
"He's just one of those natural swingers that gets up there and gets the barrel to the ball. He reminds me, actually, of a younger Adrian Beltre, how Beltre was years ago. He's going to continue to get better and stronger with more power."
As for Ohtani ...
"Ohtani is a little different, simply because we're not as familiar [with him]," Cash said. "We had one game where we faced him on the mound. He's obviously very talented. From an offensive standpoint, he was banged up a little bit and didn't get consistent reps against us."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.