ST. PETERSBURG -- After not being spotted at workouts since Tuesday, Diego Castillo was back at Tropicana Field on Monday sporting a mask and getting a warm socially distanced welcome from some of his teammates.
Castillo, who is expected to be one of the key bullpen arms for the Rays this season, said his absence was the result of dealing with some personal matters at home and had nothing to do with any COVID-19 testing issues.
“I had to take care of something with my family,” Castillo said. “We’re here, we’re back.”
Despite being away from the team for a couple days, Castillo believes he’ll be ready for Opening Day. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday and then a live batting practice at some point this week.
Manager Kevin Cash also isn't worried about the time away from camp affecting the right-hander.
“Diego has been with us the entire six weeks leading up and throwing bullpens,” Cash said. “I think he even had a live [BP] one time, so he’ll be totally fine. But we say that barring [any] setbacks. With most of our one-inning relievers, we don’t see much of an issue, with two weeks to go, to build them up.”
With Castillo back in the mix, that leaves six players who haven’t been spotted at Rays camp for more than a week. Tyler Glasnow, Randy Arozarena, Yonny Chirinos and José Martínez have not been seen since the beginning of camp, while Austin Meadows has not been seen on the field since participating in the first workout on July 3 and Brendan McKay has not been seen on the mound for more than a week.
Snell and Morton go outside
While a couple relievers pitched in a simulated game at the Trop on Monday, the Rays also had Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Anthony Banda pitch outside at another location.
Cash attended the workout at the undisclosed training site and said he was encouraged from what he saw by all three pitchers. Cash said Morton pitched five innings, Snell tossed three and Banda pitched two.
“It was very productive,” Cash said. “ ... Definitely the work that Blake, [Banda] and Charlie put in, it was really beneficial.”
The reasoning behind having Morton, Snell and Banda pitch at the other site is to start getting the players acclimated to the weather. Cash said the team will continue to have players work outside, including on Tuesday, weather permitting.
“I think that fifth inning, everybody was a little gassed. Rightfully so, it’s extremely hot out there,” Cash said. “But there was a benefit to it. We’ll kind of use that as we see fit moving forward.”
Sim game notes
Tampa Bay's pitching staff has dominated most of the simulated games this week, but the hitters answered back on Monday with a couple of hard-hit balls.
Daniel Robertson started the day with a long and loud home run off Chaz Roe. That seemed to set the tone as Joey Wendle took Andrew Kittredge deep later in the sim game and Ji-Man Choi hit one off Nick Anderson.
“Excited to see that Joey Wendle hit a homer,” Cash said with a smile. “He was really excited and FaceTimed me to tell me, which is in typical Joey fashion."
While the hitters connected for three homers, the Rays' pitching staff still had some impressive performances. Pete Fairbanks continued his strong Summer Camp, retiring four of the five hitters he faced, including two strikeouts against Willy Adames. Fairbanks has struck out five in two outings.
Roe also looked sharp despite giving up the homer to Robertson. The right-hander said he threw a lot of cutters, which is the pitch that he’s working on the most during Summer Camp, and struck out left-handers Chris Herrmann and Choi.