ST. PETERSBURG -- After missing the last three weeks due to a positive COVID-19 test, Rays All-Star Austin Meadows has been cleared to work out after a pair of negative tests and spent Saturday morning in the alternate training site in Port Charlotte, Fla., according to manager Kevin Cash.
“We do have Austin Meadows to report and he’s down in Port Charlotte working out, so that’s a good thing,” Cash said. “He went through a session with that group in the morning and noted that it was hot, but that will be good for him, to get outside in the elements and get his cardio up and certainly get his timing at the plate.”
Cash noted that Meadows is still on the injured list and that there is still no timetable for his return to the big league roster. The decision will ultimately come down to when the outfielder feels that he’s ready to return.
Of the three players on the active roster who tested positive for COVID-19, José Martínez is the only Rays position player to return and he needed four Summer Camp workouts to feel ready for the season. Every player’s case is different, however.
“I really have no idea, it’s too early to tell,” Cash said on Meadows’ timetable. “But he seems to be in pretty good spirits that he’s able to be around some guys he’s familiar with and champing at the bit to do everything he can do to get back on our roster.”
Meadows, who became a first-time All-Star in his first full big league season, was the Rays’ best hitter last season. The 25-year-old launched a career-high 33 home runs in 2019 and finished with a team-leading 89 RBIs. Meadows also serves as the Rays’ primary leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching.
In his absence, the Rays have Ji-Man Choi as the leadoff hitter on Saturday against the Blue Jays.
Snell tabbed as Sunday’s starter
Despite not being fully built up, Blake Snell is set to make his first start on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Snell last pitched on Tuesday and acknowledged that because of the condensed Summer Camp, he still felt like he was a couple of starts away from being able to give the Rays length on the mound.
Snell walked four in two innings during Tuesday’s intrasquad game and it mostly had to do with a lack of control on the fastball. Snell, however, threw a short bullpen session on Friday and said he felt “amazing” after it, making him confident that he can provide the Rays with quality innings on Sunday.
Because of his workload, Cash said it was fair to expect two to three innings from Snell and then they'll continue to build him up over the course of the season.
“I feel great,” Snell said. “It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
For his long-term health and the long-term success of the team, Snell said that he’s had to take a step back and doesn’t want to rush himself and risk injury, though he feels 100 percent with the left elbow injuries he’s dealt with over the past year.
“I’m coming off the loose bodies, playoffs and all of that. And going to the spring and taking a step back, because I was trying to push too hard,” Snell said. “After all of that, this is why I feel like I’m taking this step back to make sure I’m not doing too much to aggravate anything.”
A big welcome
Diego Castillo, who was placed on the paternity list just hours before the team’s Opening Day game against the Blue Jays, welcomed the birth of his child on Friday. The Rays have until before Monday’s game to activate Castillo, or they can move him to the restricted list if he needs more time with his family.
Snell and the Rays wrap up a three-game set against the Blue Jays at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday at Tropicana Field. Snell is 22-11 with a 2.49 ERA in 46 career starts at Tropicana Field. Watch the action live on MLB.TV.