TAMPA, Fla. -- Nathan Eovaldi made his second appearance of the spring in Sunday's 9-1 Rays win over the Yankees and continues to look strong.The Rays signed Eovaldi as a free agent in February 2017, due in part to the organization's reputation in handling pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nathan Eovaldi made his second appearance of the spring in Sunday's 9-1 Rays win over the Yankees and continues to look strong.
The Rays signed Eovaldi as a free agent in February 2017, due in part to the organization's reputation in handling pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery. At the time, he was coming back from his second such procedure. Eovaldi achieved his goal of being physically ready to return by the end of the '17 season, prompting the Rays to exercise his '18 option.
The hard-throwing right-hander is attempting to become the 32nd player to pitch in the Major Leagues after two Tommy John surgeries, and only the 12th pitcher to start a Major League game after doing so. If Eovaldi is successful, he'll also be the third to pitch for the Rays after two Tommy John procedures, joining Al Reyes and Lance Carter.
Eovaldi on Sunday started against the Yankees, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out two. His fastball stayed in the high 90s, and he even touched 100 mph, according to the scoreboard at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
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"I felt good out there, control felt good. I gave up a couple of hits, but I was able work out of it, and that was the main thing," Eovaldi said. "...Very pleased with where I'm at right now."
The 28-year-old is penciled in as part of the four-man rotation the Rays plan to use the first month of the season.
Manager Kevin Cash believes Eovaldi can be "very" good this season. Cash noted that Eovaldi being afforded the opportunity to watch other Rays pitchers work "helped him as a pitcher and what he wanted to do when he got back."
"You see a little more mix to his repertoire," Cash said. "He alters his delivery a little bit more. He's so athletic and physical on the mound, and that's not an easy thing to do. And he seems like he's doing it well, and he can do it with all of his pitches.
"I think he's taken to some of the thoughts with [pitching coach] Kyle [Snyder] and [bullpen coach] Stan [Boroski], and even before [former pitching coach Jim Hickey] left. Some of the verbage that was being used, he's going to put that into his season this year and benefit a lot from it.
"Where to locate the fastball, where you get the most swings and misses. Whatever he's throwing. He had a lot of time on his hands to watch, and kind of watch the guys who threw for us, that started for us, and see how he could balance himself into that mix."
At the game
• Jake Cronenworth earned tough guy marks after taking a 98-mph fastball from Albertin Chapman in the ribs in the third. The non-roster invitee went to first base with not so much as a wimper.
"It got most of my elbow guard, so it didn't hurt that bad," Cronenworth said.
• Mallex Smith went 3-for-3 on Sunday, including a single off Chapman after getting brushed back.
• Peter Maris came through with a three-run homer in the ninth inning to cap the scoring.
"That kid can play," Cash said. "We stick him everywhere. He always has a good at-bat, hits the ball hard."
The Rays designated infielder Ryan Schimpf for assignment on Saturday to make room on the 40-man roster, taking one name away from the second-base competition. However, Cash said he hoped that Schimpf would clear waivers and return to the Rays. Recent trade acquisition Nick Solak started at second base on Sunday, but Cash said not to read too much into that. Solak is still earmarked to begin the season at Double-A Montgomery.
Third baseman Matt Duffy (back spasms) and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (tightness behind his right knee) were not with the team Sunday in Tampa. However, Cash said both are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday following Monday's off-day.
Infielder Brad Miller (broken right pinky toe) remains day to day.
The Rays host the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park (listen to an exclusive audio webcast on rays.com). Chih-Wei Hu will start for the Rays, while Hector Velazquez goes for the Red Sox.