Notes: Arozarena to IL; Chirinos impresses

July 23rd, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- Among the moves made to set their Opening Day roster, the Rays placed outfielder  on the Minor League COVID-19 injured list after testing positive during intake testing.

Arozarena did not attend any workouts during Summer Camp and it’s unclear when the outfielder will be able to return to the field. Arozarena was reassigned to the alternate training site in Port Charlotte, Fla., and he will be available to come off the injured list when he has two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The outfielder becomes the fifth Rays player to acknowledge that he tested positive for the coronavirus. Tyler Glasnow, Yonny Chirinos and José Martínez have since returned and are all on the club's Opening Day roster. Austin Meadows was placed on the injured list last week and it’s still unclear when he’ll return to the field.

“[I] have spoken with him; he’s doing good. He’s in good spirits,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “It’s been challenging for Randy. You think about the language barrier, being somewhat by yourself -- we’ve really tried to put our arm around him through phone calls and text messages, and having kind of a wide group effort in the organization to continue to communicate and looking forward to the time that he’s ready to go.”

Arozarena, who was acquired from the Cardinals over the offseason, was one of the bright spots during Spring Training. The 25-year-old outfielder is the No. 17 prospect in the Rays’ organization and scouts have raved about Arozarena's ability at the plate and on the basepaths.

Arozarena finished with a 1.136 OPS in 20 at-bats during Spring Training and he was a likely candidate to make the Opening Day roster in the outfield. Placing Arozarena on the injured list opened up a spot for the Rays to place Ryan Thompson on the 40-man and active rosters.

Chirinos faces live hitters
After missing the first two weeks of camp due to a positive coronavirus test, Chirinos threw off the mound and faced live hitters for the first time on Thursday. He threw four simulated innings against Kevin Kiermaier, Mike Brosseau and Martínez. The Rays right-hander threw 62 pitches, 42 for strikes.

“We were all really encouraged by Yonny,” Cash said. “It was very much of a work day for him. He wasn’t up there with the intent to strike everybody out -- it was basically with the intent to command his pitches. The stuff and the readings that we got in those four innings was really, really positive.”

Cash said the plan, as of now, is for Chirinos to serve mostly as a starter this season as opposed to following an opener, as he’s done at times over the last two seasons.

Other roster moves
Aside from Arozarena being placed on the Minor League injured list, some of the club's other notable roster decisions involved Anthony Banda, Nate Lowe and Brendan McKay. Banda was competing for a roster spot, but was edged out by Jalen Beeks and optioned to the alternate training site in Port Charlotte.

Lowe struggled early in camp, and the decision to option him on Thursday was made due to the Rays wanting him to get more consistent at-bats and work on his timing before he returns to the big league level. As for McKay, Cash wouldn’t get into much detail as to why the left-hander has not been in camp since July 6.