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Notes: Yarbrough's bid; Meadows' first HR

@juanctoribio
March 5, 2020

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ryan Yarbrough knows that the Rays won’t decide whether he’ll be a full-time starter until the end of Spring Training, but the left-hander continues to make his case. Yarbrough tossed three scoreless innings in the Rays’ 2-1 win over the Pirates on Thursday at Charlotte Sports

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ryan Yarbrough knows that the Rays won’t decide whether he’ll be a full-time starter until the end of Spring Training, but the left-hander continues to make his case.

Yarbrough tossed three scoreless innings in the Rays’ 2-1 win over the Pirates on Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park. In three Grapefruit League starts, Yarbrough has allowed only an unearned run in six innings.

“He’s thrown the ball well,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “[Yarbrough] is very intense, but he has a good sense of what he’s trying to accomplish and [is] able to articulate it and have a good back-and-forth.”

Yarbrough threw 43 pitches on Thursday, 32 for strikes. That was a step in the right direction for Yarbrough, who has been self-critical about nibbling and not attacking guys early in the count.

He was also able to pitch three clean innings despite allowing a leadoff baserunner in each frame. Yarbrough said having runners on base is never ideal, but he called it a “blessing in disguise” this early in the spring.

“Obviously, just getting these extra ups and downs, throwing some extra pitches, the body is feeling good,” Yarbrough said. “I think that’s going to continue the trend, so everything is feeling good right now.”

For Yarbrough, the big question is whether he will become a full-time member of the rotation. Yarbrough has 27 wins over two seasons, and most of them have come behind the opener.

But with multiple seasons of success under his belt, Yarbrough is trying to prove that he can be part of what could be one of the best rotations in the American League.

“I think that’s what I’m trying to do, just really compete for it and prove to them that that’s something I can continue to do after last year,” Yarbrough said. “We’re not going to come to a decision until [the end of Spring Training], so [I have to] just continue to try and prove to them that I can do it.”

Through three Spring Training starts, Yarbrough is certainly stating his case.

Meadows goes deep
Austin Meadows hit his first homer of the spring on Thursday, and he didn’t waste time. Meadows launched the first pitch he saw from Pirates lefty Derek Holland into the Tampa Bay bullpen leading off the bottom of the first.

“[It] feels good to hit the ball hard,” Meadows said. “Obviously it’s Spring Training so it doesn’t count, but with the regular season just three weeks away, you want to kind of start locking in this time of year.”'

Before the home run, Meadows was 1-for-17, his only hit an infield single. Though a slow start might have affected Meadows in the past, the All-Star said he isn’t worried about Spring Training outcomes following a successful 2019 campaign.

“He’s going to get going for sure,” Cash said. “That’s a player that is maturing. He recognizes it's a process and you have to make slow progress. and he’s doing it.”

Up next
Yonny Chirinos, who is also looking to become a full-time starter, will be making his third Grapefruit League start on Friday against the Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Brendan McKay, who dealt with left shoulder soreness earlier in the spring, is scheduled for his first outing of the spring. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Here’s the expected full lineup:

Randy Arozarena, RF
Ji-Man Choi, 1B
José Martínez, DH
Joey Wendle, 3B
Kevan Smith, C
Ryan LaMarre, LF
Brian O’Grady, CF
Michael Brosseau, SS
Lucius Fox, 2B

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