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Cash hopes prospects' rehab is learning tool

Rays' Honeywell, De Leon sidelined with torn UCLs
Special to MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Despite losing a second pitching prospect this spring with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, manager Kevin Cash is hopeful that the two will not only strengthen their physical side of the game, but the mental side as well.

Although Brent Honeywell -- the Rays' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- and Jose De Leon won't return anytime soon, Cash said that there is still much for the two to learn from the sidelines.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Despite losing a second pitching prospect this spring with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, manager Kevin Cash is hopeful that the two will not only strengthen their physical side of the game, but the mental side as well.

Although Brent Honeywell -- the Rays' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- and Jose De Leon won't return anytime soon, Cash said that there is still much for the two to learn from the sidelines.

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"I think there's a lot to be learned from what Nathan Eovaldi went through last year," Cash said Thursday, one day after De Leon was diagnosed with the same injury that resulted in Tommy John surgery for Honeywell on Feb. 27. "I'm convinced that he made himself a better pitcher by not pitching, just by watching a lot of games in tune to how his teammates and the opposition were attacking hitters, and probably came up with some new ideas that he's implemented."

Eovaldi had a second Tommy John surgery in August 2016 and has bounced back with two impressive starts this spring.

"So hopefully they take that opportunity, wherever they're rehabbing, to make the most of it," Cash said. "The rehab process is strenuous; you have to get after it in that regard, but you can also work on the mental side of things while you're sitting and watching games -- a lot to be learned."

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De Leon was diagnosed Wednesday with a torn UCL. He will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery on Honeywell.

Sim games hold added importance
Pitching prospects Jose Mujica and Austin Pruitt and non-roster invitee Adam Kolarek are among a logjam of hurlers itching to make their way to mound. All pitched sim games Thursday. That's becoming the go-to method for Cash to allow the club's plethora of arms to get some work.

"We've got a lot of pitchers," Cash said. "Obviously, we had to bring in a lot of pitchers for the split squad Day 1, and this is some of the repercussions of it. Hopefully we can learn and realize that this has been a challenge trying to get guys innings and to be fair to everybody. So that's why we've added these sim games two of the last three days."

McGowan released
Right-handers Dustin McGowan and Evan Scribner were given their release.

Cash said that he wanted to give McGowan, who has spent parts of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, enough time to catch on with another club.

"It's probably not the message he wanted to hear, but in fairness, given his situation and where his standing was -- how it stacked up to the guys that were available to make the club -- it was just a fairly long shot," Cash said.

Video: TB@BOS: McGowan strikes out Moreland to end the 4th

McGowan made a career-high 63 appearances last season for the Marlins.

"I hope he lands on his feet because he's a big league pitcher and can finish his career strong," Cash said.

Quest for righty OF bat continues
The Rays came into camp very heavy on left-handed hitters in the outfield, and Cash said it would be nice to see a right-handed bat out there to balance it out.

On March 3, the Rays signed right-handed-hitting Carlos Gomez to go along with left-handed-hitting outfielders Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith, Denard Span and Justin Williams.

Video: BAL@TB: Snell, Gomez discuss strong performances

Cash continues to experiment with right-handed-hitting infielders in the outfield, including Daniel Robertson. Non-roster invitee Micah Johnson is another, but he has experience playing the outfield. Accustomed to playing both, Cash said he wants to give Johnson a look at second base.

"He'll come in to play second base soon," Cash said. "We're going to make some roster decisions coming up and then we'll have some space and get him some reps at second."

Position battle
Left-handed-hitting second baseman Joey Wendle continues to have a solid spring, going 2-for-3 in Thursday's 6-6 tie against Boston. He was on the back end of a double steal and scored a run.

Wendle came to the Rays in a December trade with the A's for a player to be named. He played in 36 games over two seasons with Oakland, hitting .266 with a .305 on-base percentage. Wendle ie battling starter Brad Miller, as well as Robertson, for the second-base job.

Up next
The Rays host the Twins in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Fans can tune in via an exclusive audio webcast on rays.com. Right-hander Andrew Kittredge will start for Tampa Bay. Left-handers Vidal Nuno and Jonny Venters, as well as right-handers Diego Castillo, Ryne Stanek, Daniel Hudson and Sergio Romo, are also slated to take the mound.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays, Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon, Dustin McGowan