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Notes: Alvarado feeling 100%; vibes all around

@juanctoribio
July 4, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- Before Spring Training was paused in March, José Alvarado felt adamant that he was “100 percent” and ready to have a bounce-back season in 2020. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the season in the past few months, Alvarado said he worked out almost every day in order to

ST. PETERSBURG -- Before Spring Training was paused in March, José Alvarado felt adamant that he was “100 percent” and ready to have a bounce-back season in 2020.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the season in the past few months, Alvarado said he worked out almost every day in order to stay in shape.

“I’m ready to go,” he said Friday, during the Rays' second workout of Summer Camp. “I’m feeling 100 percent. I’m ready to compete in the game. This year, if we play 60 games, every opportunity that the team gives me, I’m going to take. I’m really focused and ready to go.”

Alvarado bouncing back would give the Rays a significant boost. In 2018, the left-hander had a 2.39 ERA and struck out 80 batters over 64 innings of work. Last season, however, he suffered various injuries and was also away from the team for over a month due to a personal matter in Venezuela. All told, he tallied a 4.80 ERA in 30 innings.

Even without Alvarado's prominence, the Rays boasted one of the Majors' premier bullpens last season. But adding Alvarado to the back-end again this year would give them yet another power arm.

“When he’s right, he’s as dominant as anybody in the game,” said manager Kevin Cash. “The thing that really sticks out right now is the strike-throwing and that he’s landing his breaking ball. When it starts to fall off the tracks a little bit, it looks like he can’t land a breaking ball and he’s throwing a lot of balls that come up short. And he’s not doing that. His delivery is really clean.

“I don’t think there’s many hitters that really feel too good about facing him, whether he’s good or bad at that time. When he’s throwing strikes, he really has the ability to help us out in multiple ways.”

Cash said that Alvarado’s live batting practice session on Saturday was “just filthy.” The left-hander threw 15 pitches against Brandon Lowe and Willy Adames, with about 13 or 14 of those pitches going for strikes, per the skipper.

“Absolute electric stuff; he looked really good,” Lowe said. “Threw all his pitches to me for strikes and looked really solid.”

Other notes from second workout
Saturday's workouts looked a lot like the first reconvening on Friday. Groups were still divided and scattered throughout the morning, and Avarado and Andrew Kittredge were among the pitchers that threw a live batting practice session, while Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Yandy Díaz had another busy day themselves.

Inside the Trop on first day of Summer Camp

While it was just the second day back, Cash mentioned that he felt there was a little more energy and a better feeling during Saturday's action.

“Probably a better vibe today than yesterday,” he said. “I think yesterday there was excitement, but maybe there was a little bit more comfort with knowing the routine of what we’re trying to accomplish, and so many people are working so hard behind the scenes to be as accommodating as possible. So far it’s been really encouraging with everything we’ve seen.”

The workouts will remain about the same in the coming days, but Cash said the club is tentatively planning on having a live batting practice/simulated game on Wednesday. He’s still unsure of how that will work, but the goal is to create a game-like environment.

A Kiermaier Fourth of July
Kevin Kiermaier took part in Saturday workouts, and the speedster even stayed a little longer in order to work on his throws from center field. But the Rays' outfielder couldn’t help but think about what the Fourth of July would’ve looked like under normal circumstances.

Before the pandemic, the Rays were scheduled to travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Playing in a historic ballpark on a holiday is special enough, but Kiermaier was going to celebrate it with his brother, who is the head groundskeeper for the Cubs.

“Today was gonna be extra special for me, personally, [because] my older brother, Dan, is in his first [year] of being head groundskeeper for the Cubs taking care of Wrigley each and every day,” Kiermaier wrote on Twitter. “I was so looking forward to playing in historic Wrigley Field on [Fourth] of July also knowing that my older brother put just as much hard work in as I did in a different way to have a career in the big leagues. … Baseball is back though and I’m excited to take any field!”

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