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Notes: Snell, Morton, Richards look strong

@juanctoribio
July 8, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- Though the Rays have been pleased with how in shape players stayed during quarantine, they want to continue to be careful about overworking position players during the first week of Summer Camp. Staying in good physical shape and being in baseball shape are two different things, which

ST. PETERSBURG -- Though the Rays have been pleased with how in shape players stayed during quarantine, they want to continue to be careful about overworking position players during the first week of Summer Camp.

Staying in good physical shape and being in baseball shape are two different things, which is why the plan for the Rays was to have a couple of days of just batting practice and defensive work. On Wednesday, however, the action was ramped up slightly with the first simulated game of Summer Camp.

"It was good to see the guys get out and get into a little competition," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "[It was good] to get back on the field in somewhat more of a normal setting even though you're competing against a guy with your same colored jersey on. … [I was] encouraged by everything from the mound and in the batter's box."

The simulated game consisted of four hitters on each team, three being infielders and one catcher. Players weren't allowed to run the bases, as that's something that will happen once the club progresses to instraquad games next week. On defense, there were no outfielders.

Charlie Morton and Ryan Yarbrough threw the bulk of the innings on Wednesday, with Blake Snell and Trevor Richards also getting some work. Morton threw four innings, striking out three and allowing two runs. Morton faced Yandy Díaz, Michael Perez, Daniel Robertson and Joey Wendle during the session, throwing 37 of his 47 pitches for strikes and looking particularly sharp with the breaking ball.

"Overall I felt pretty good," Morton said. "The last live [pitching session] I threw was in the lab here, so really, I think my stuff is getting to where it needs to be. ... I felt like I was working on my endurance and still had pretty decent stuff in the fourth [inning]. I'm pretty optimistic about everything overall."

Wendle, Díaz and Perez were all able to get a hit off Morton on Wednesday. Wendle hit a one-hopper to the wall in center field, which was ruled a double by pitching coach/umpire Kyle Snyder. Díaz went 2-for-3 against Morton, with one being ruled an RBI single. Perez had the biggest swing of the day, launching a home run to deep right field off Morton.

Yarbrough shines in quest to solidify rotation spot

Once Morton was done with his session, it was Snell's turn to take over, and it was a solid outing for the former American League Cy Young Award winner. Snell struck out three in 1 2/3 innings, throwing 14 of his 23 pitches for strikes. It was Snell's first time facing live hitters since early March and only the second time since receiving a cortisone shot in his left elbow in late February.

Snell also faced Díaz, Wendle, Perez and Robertson, and he came away saying his elbow issues are in the past.

"After this last week and a half of throwing, I'm pretty past it," Snell said. "My arm feels really good. I'm not worried about it. I don't think about it. I don't think you guys should think about it either. I feel really good and I'm going to continue to feel better with the amount of work that I'm going to put in to make sure that I'm consistently ready to go. Definitely looking forward to it."

Of the group that threw on Wednesday, Richards was perhaps the most impressive. Brandon Lowe, Willy Adames, Mike Zunino and Ji-Man Choi all got two at-bats against Richards, but none of them had any success.

Adames, Choi and Zunino struck out twice against Richards, and the only ball that was put in play against the right-hander was a popup to the catcher off the bat of Lowe. Overall, Richards struck out seven on 34 pitches over 2 2/3 innings.

"I don't know if we saw the best of Trevor at any point last year, but his stuff is pretty unique," Cash said. "He has a lot of carry, hides the ball well and I think Willy swung at a changeup. That changeup from behind almost looks like a breaking ball the way it drops. The changeup is going to be the big equalizer. When we see that pitch on, he's generally on track for a pretty good outing."

The Rays will go through another simulated game on Thursday, though Cash couldn't disclose who was pitching due to the protocols that are in place to protect the players that haven't attended a workout.

Wednesday's attendance
Though Wednesday was a lighter day on the field, Tyler Glasnow, Randy Arozarena, Yonny Chirinos and José Martínez have still not been spotted during workouts. Austin Meadows attended Friday's workout, but he has not been on the field since. Brendan McKay participated in the first couple of workouts, but he has not been seen on the field the last two days.

Due to the health protocols, the Rays won't disclose which players have attended each workout.

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