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Snell shows late-season form in spring debut

Lefty tosses 2 perfect innings; Odorizzi catches up with ex-teammates
MLB.com @wwchastain

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Blake Snell came up in 2016 labeled as the organization's "can't miss" prospect.

The left-hander took a step backward at the early part of 2017, before finishing strong thanks largely to a mechanical adjustment that saw him position his foot at the middle of the rubber rather than the third-base side. Basically, the adjustment prevented him from throwing across his body to his target.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Blake Snell came up in 2016 labeled as the organization's "can't miss" prospect.

The left-hander took a step backward at the early part of 2017, before finishing strong thanks largely to a mechanical adjustment that saw him position his foot at the middle of the rubber rather than the third-base side. Basically, the adjustment prevented him from throwing across his body to his target.

View Full Game Coverage

The hope heading into the 2018 season is that Snell will pick up where he left off at the end of 2017. Snell offered early evidence that the late-season Snell is here to stay.

Snell made his first start of the spring during a 5-4 loss to the Twins on Sunday afternoon in Fort Myers. Yes, he only pitched two innings. And, yes, it's only the first week of Spring Training, but Snell looked really good.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

He pitched two innings, allowing no runs, no hits, and no walks while striking out four. Two of those strikeouts came after falling behind in the count 3-0 and 3-1 to Jorge Polanco and Jason Castro. Both went down swinging -- Polanco at a slider and Castro at a 97-mph fastball.

Snell said he "liked it" when asked to assess his performance.

"Good fastball command, I fell behind, but came back," Snell said. "Fastball was coming out good. Everything felt good."

Odorizzi remembers
Jake Odorizzi had a chance to catch up with the Rays contingent on Sunday, slighly more than a week after he got traded to the Twins.

The right-hander characterized his time with the team as "good" and he noted, "I wouldn't be the player I am today without my time there and everybody who had a hand in getting me to that direction."

"I'm grateful for it," Odorizzi said. "Between Hick [Jim Hickey] all my fellow pitchers, David Price, Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, all those guys, Drew Smyly, they all made me feel at home when I was a young guy.

"The bond that Arch [Chris Archer] and I have can never be broken. He was the closest thing to a brother that I had on the team. So those are the things that are tough. But like I said, I'm eternally grateful for them giving me my shot and sticking with me."

Odorizzi referenced the rocky first two months he experienced as a rookie in 2014.

"A lot of teams might have sent me down, but they held true, and it really helped me get to this point in my career," Odorizzi said. "But to all the guys over there, I wish them the best."

Video: TB@BOS: Duffy hits an RBI single to left field

Worth noting
Matt Duffy played on back-to-back days on Friday and Saturday, so the Rays' third baseman, who is returning from heel surgery, was off Sunday. Duffy, who is penciled in to be the third baseman, appears to be completely healthy after missing all of the 2017 season.

"I feel great," Duffy said. "I could go again today."

• Brent Honeywell is trying to decide who will perform his Tommy John surgery. He will see noted orthopedic Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

"From what I understand, he's leaning toward Andrews, but it's funny, there's so many good doctors right now. It's almost like a recruiting thing," manager Kevin Cash said. "They go and give sales pitches. No, Dr. Andrews, I don't think you can go wrong with him. Or really any of those guys, they're really good at what they do."

Up next
Rays ace Chris Archer makes his spring debut Monday when the Rays host the Blue Jays on Monday afternoon in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Charlotte Sports Park. Also slated to see action are Jose De Leon, Ryan Weber, Hunter Wood, Andrew Kittredge, Adam Kolarek, Diego Castillo, and Ian Gibaut.

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Blake Snell