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Mound adjustment key to Snell's breakout

Lefty recorded excellent results pitching from the center of the rubber at end of '17
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After Blake Snell moved his starting position to the middle of the rubber prior to the end of the 2017 season, everything seemed to click into place mechanically for the left-hander. And the results showed in his strong finish with the Rays in '17, when he went 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his final 10 starts.

"As of now, from what I can see, I feel great," Snell said. "I feel aligned. I feel like when I play catch, I'm not drifting [my body position]. I'm consistent. Everything's exactly where I want it and I really couldn't be happier."

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After Blake Snell moved his starting position to the middle of the rubber prior to the end of the 2017 season, everything seemed to click into place mechanically for the left-hander. And the results showed in his strong finish with the Rays in '17, when he went 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his final 10 starts.

"As of now, from what I can see, I feel great," Snell said. "I feel aligned. I feel like when I play catch, I'm not drifting [my body position]. I'm consistent. Everything's exactly where I want it and I really couldn't be happier."

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Snell had lined up on the third-base side of the rubber before making the change last season.

"I just think it knocked my consistency, knocked my [velocity] for sure," Snell said. "Throwing across your body, it's really hard to locate, it was just a big struggle for me."

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Snell now feels good about where he's at early in Spring Training.

"I had a good offseason," Snell said. "I can tell just by the way I'm throwing the ball right now."

Miller Healthy
Brad Miller hit a career-low .201 in 110 games for the Rays in 2017, hitting just nine home runs following a career-high 30-homer season in '16.

Truth be told, Miller was hurting for most of the 2017 season, which saw him miss 42 games due to a pair of stints on the disabled list. After offseason core muscle surgery, Miller is feeling good and ready to go this season.

"I had pretty extensive surgery," Miller said. "That was kind of my thing. At the end of the year, it's always self-evaluation, 'What do I have to do to get better?' For me it was pretty easy, I need to get this taken care of.

"They call it core muscle surgery. So basically I had to get both groins and my adductor repaired and reattached to my pelvis. And then also my lower abdomen, had to get it repaired and reattached. It was pretty shredded. There wasn't really a decision that needed to be made. It had to be done."

Miller's explanation of his injury and surgery should not be construed as a pity party, as he owned up to what transpired.

"I made the decision to play," Miller said. "I could have taken care of [the injury] during the season. But I felt like I could battle through it. I think if something like that happens again, I'll be more equipped mentally to go through it."

A healthy Miller will be a wild card for this year's team. Rays manager Kevin Cash has said Miller will primarily play first base, but he'll see some time at second base as well.

"Versatility is not a bad thing," Cash said. "If he's healthy, we're probably going to want that bat in the lineup quite a bit. He's just got to go into the season healthy."

Power 'pen
During the offseason, Cash said he expected to have a power bullpen this season, and nothing he has seen thus far in camp has changed that opinion.

"You can define power many different ways," Cash said. "Obviously, when you say power, many people think about the [velocity] and the fastball. We've got plenty of that, but we've also got some power sliders in there. Those guys might not be throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s, but the sharpness and tilt of their breaking ball turns it into a power pitch."

Video: Cash on adding to the Rays' bullpen

When asked if this was going to be his toughest spring for selecting the composition of the bullpen, Cash said, "In a good way."

"If our thoughts are right, and everything we've discussed during this offseason, we'll probably have four or five guys we would be OK having in the bullpen, but it probably won't work out right out of the gate," Cash said. "Our full 40-man roster has a chance to impact us. ... I think our roster will play a big role with us throughout the season."

Cron to camp Wednesday
C.J. Cron, whom the Rays acquired in a Saturday night trade with the Angels, got his physical in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, so he was unable to show up in camp for Tuesday's workout. He's expected to join the team on Wednesday.

Video: Rays acquire Cron, designate Dickerson for assignment

Cash said Cron will play first base and DH, "All the time against left-handed pitching."

"We look at him as a guy that we have to find some information about," Cash said. "But he complements our team very well. We envision him playing a lot."

Up next
The Rays will work out Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET at Charlotte Sports Park. All workouts are open to the public. The Rays will open Grapefruit League action on Friday with a split-squad game, playing the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., at 1:05 p.m., and the Pirates at the Charlotte Sports Complex at 1:05 p.m.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Blake Snell