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Notes: Rays planning to carry 3 catchers

Snell, Glasnow start intrasquad game in final tuneup for season
@juanctoribio
July 22, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- It remains to be seen just how the Rays will set their 30-man Opening Day roster, but manager Kevin Cash said you can expect three catchers to be in uniform against the Blue Jays on Friday. With Colin Poche lost for the season with a torn ulnar

ST. PETERSBURG -- It remains to be seen just how the Rays will set their 30-man Opening Day roster, but manager Kevin Cash said you can expect three catchers to be in uniform against the Blue Jays on Friday.

With Colin Poche lost for the season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, the Rays selected the contract of Kevan Smith and added him to the 40-man roster on Tuesday. With the move, Cash said the club will carry Smith, Mike Zunino and Michael Perez on the Opening Day roster.

“We’re confident that we will start the season with three catchers,” Cash said on Tuesday. “All three are deserving and I think we’ll benefit from having the depth at that position. It allows us to be creative with some of our in-game decisions and lineup construction.”

Smith and Perez entered Summer Camp in a competition for the second catcher spot with Chris Herrmann, who asked for his release on Saturday in order to find an opportunity elsewhere. Once Herrmann decided to go elsewhere, the Rays had to prioritize depth at the position.

Both Smith and Perez impressed the Rays over the last three weeks, but the club felt it needed to add Smith, who is out of options, to the 40-man roster to avoid the risk of losing him on waivers. Top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández is the fourth catcher in the Rays’ 60-man player pool.

Perez will likely split most of the time with Zunino due to his experience with the pitching staff and the fact that he gives the Rays another left-handed-hitting option. Smith will also get playing time, but he could serve as the team’s designated hitter against a left-handed starter. Smith has a career .304 average against southpaws.

Snell and Glasnow’s last tuneup

Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow started for their respective teams in Tuesday’s intrasquad game, but both struggled with their command in their final tuneup before the regular season.

Snell pitched two innings, though he was unable to record the final out of each frame. The left-hander walked four in the two frames, two of them coming against Yandy Díaz. Overall, Snell threw 47 pitches, 23 for strikes.

“Frustrated today, for sure,” Snell said. “It’s frustrating because I know how good I wanna be and how good I am, but I have to learn these things a lot quicker. A lot to learn from and a lot to break down. I’ll make sure to do that tonight and tomorrow and we’re going to start to get this thing rolling here and try our best to get a World Series season here.”

Snell said that he doesn’t care if his first start comes on Sunday against the Blue Jays or Monday against the Braves, but did add that he doesn’t feel “100 percent ready” to give the team five or six innings due to the abbreviated Summer Camp. He expects his next outing to be in the three- or four-inning range, but that will come down to pitching coach Kyle Snyder.

As for Glasnow, the right-hander struck out five but also walked four on Tuesday. It was Glasnow’s second time facing hitters during Summer Camp after a positive COVID-19 test held him out for the first two weeks of camp. Despite that, Glasnow’s fastball velocity was in the upper 90s, but his curveball lacked some command during the intrasquad game. Glasnow also threw three changeups, a couple of them to left-handed hitters. His one mistake came against Ji-Man Choi, who blasted a three-run homer off a fastball.

“The feel for things just wasn’t there today, but as far as stuff and physically and how ready I am, I feel pretty good,” Glasnow said. “I just couldn’t get the curveball over and it made it easier for guys to sit on heaters. But for this early on, I’m pleased with how I felt today.”

Other notes from Tuesday’s scrimmage

• Hernández had another impressive night on Tuesday, hitting a towering home run off Trevor Richards and following it up with an RBI double off Shane McClanahan. Over the last two days, Hernandez picked up four hits, three of them for extra bases.

• Shane Baz and McClanahan, two of the Rays’ top pitching prospects, both pitched on Tuesday and looked sharp in their inning. Baz, the organization’s No. 5 overall prospect, pitched a scoreless inning and showed off the power fastball scouts around the league have been raving about. The radar gun at the Trop has been a tick or two slow throughout Summer Camp, but Baz was still able to flash 98.8 mph on the fastball.

• José Martínez missed the first two weeks of camp due to a positive COVID-19 test, but the first baseman showed that he might be getting his timing back at the plate. Martínez shot a single off Snell in the first inning of Tuesday’s intrasquad and added another single off Richards in the fifth. Cash remains confident that Martínez will be ready for Opening Day.

Juan Toribio covers the Dodgers for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.