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Rays pull off a triple play (3x for Kelly)

Snell on track for Monday start; Ryan K's 5 in 3 scoreless innings
@juanctoribio
March 7, 2020

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Most fans haven’t attended a game in which a triple play is completed. It’s one of the rarest plays in the sport, but apparently the chances of one occurring increase anytime Dalton Kelly is on the field. Throughout his career, Kelly has seen three triple plays

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Most fans haven’t attended a game in which a triple play is completed. It’s one of the rarest plays in the sport, but apparently the chances of one occurring increase anytime Dalton Kelly is on the field.

Throughout his career, Kelly has seen three triple plays in a game and he has been involved in two of them, including the 6-3-4 triple play the Rays turned in the 1-1 tie against the Braves on Saturday at CoolToday Park.

“It’s crazy,” Kelly said. “Getting three outs in a couple of seconds is probably the coolest thing on defense that you can do.”

While Kelly finished off the triple play, the action all started with Wander Franco, who is the No. 1 prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. With runners on first and second in the sixth inning, Franco was able to make a shoestring grab on a hard liner off the bat of Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies.

Immediately, Franco made a throw to first base to get Cristian Pache, who got caught leaning off the first base bag. At first, it looked like the Rays completed a double play, which is a normal occurrence during a baseball game, but then Vidal Brujan (Tampa Bay’s No. 3 prospect) began jumping around near the second base bag, which tipped off the Rays about the possibility of recording a third out on the play.

“As soon as I caught it, I knew I had to throw to first,” Franco said. “But then Brujan started yelling to throw to second base, so then that’s when I knew it was a triple play.”

Once Kelly, who was playing first, received the throw from Franco, he looked up and saw Brujan and pitcher John Curtiss urging him to throw back to second. Kelly admitted that he was confused at first, but then he realized what was going on.

“I was not expecting a triple play at all,” Kelly said. “I caught it and I was like ‘OK cool, double play’ and then I caught it and Brujan, Curtiss and Franco are all jumping around at second yelling ‘two, two, two’ so I threw it over there.”

Though Kelly is a triple-play veteran, that was a first for Franco and Brujan. The play required a heads-up play from all three players involved, which added to the satisfaction, even during Spring Training.

“It’s something you don’t see often,” Brujan said. “It’s really difficult to see a triple play. Honestly, every time you do something for the first time, you get really happy, just like today.”

“That’s a big accomplishment for me because I’ve never completed a triple play,” Franco added. “I felt really happy about that.”

Snell’s return
Blake Snell (cortisone shot) wanted to see how his arm felt a day after throwing a bullpen session on Friday, and after playing light catch on Saturday, the Rays said the left-hander is scheduled to make his return to the mound on Monday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.

“Everything feels normal,” Snell said. “Yesterday I felt great, so I don’t expect much to change.”

Snell will need to go through his start on Monday before the team sets out a plan on how he can get built up before the start of the season. Snell is scheduled to pitch one inning on Monday and will add an extra inning during every subsequent start. The buildup won’t be any different than what the Rays have done with their other pitchers, but the team will be careful with Snell, given that he missed nearly two months last season after undergoing surgery to remove loose bodies from his left elbow.

“I’m excited to get into a routine,” Snell said. “It’s good to be able to pitch on Monday, and hopefully [to] pitch on Friday or Saturday. I just want to feel healthy and feel the best I can.”

Grapefruit League notes
• Joe Ryan, Tampa Bay’s No. 8 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, had a stellar start against the Braves on Saturday, striking out five over three scoreless innings. Ryan, who was named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019, has a chance to make a contribution at the big league level at some point during the 2020 season.

Randy Arozarena , the Rays’ No. 17 prospect, continued his impressive spring, reaching base all three times and stealing two bases.

Diego Castillo pitched another scoreless inning on Saturday, striking out three against the Orioles. Castillo now has nine strikeouts over five innings this spring.

Up next
Josh Fleming will make his second Grapefruit League start as the Rays host the Pirates on Sunday at 1:05 ET at Charlotte Sports Park. Fleming has allowed two earned runs over five innings this spring.

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