ST. PETERSBURG – Four Rays coaches, including pitching coach Kyle Snyder, were out with COVID-related issues and not available for Saturday’s game against the Twins at Tropicana Field.
The Rays said Snyder, bench coach Matt Quatraro, field coordinator Paul Hoover and bullpen coach Stan Boroski were out. Manager Kevin Cash said he’s uncertain when the four will be available, but they won’t begin the three-city, 10-day West Coast trip that begins Monday night in Oakland.
With catcher Francisco Mejia, several staff members now and four coaches out, Cash said the COVID situation has been frustrating.
The Minnesota Twins snapped the Tampa Bay Rays’ three-game winning streak with a 9-1 victory Saturday at Tropicana Field.
“First and foremost, we just hope they’re feeling OK and want to keep it that way,” Cash said. “No doubt, it’s very frustrating for the staff that is here and for our players. They’re right in the thick of everything. When something like this snowballs like it did (Saturday) mean I mean, we’ve been dealing, dealing, dealing, trying to contain. Then the last day or two, it has kind of hit us pretty hard. ”
Rick Knapp, the assistant pitching and rehab coach, served as a pitching coach and made two mound visits. Assistant hitting coaches Brady North and Dan DeMent also served as replacements. Cash said the Rays might consider bringing up other coaches to work with the team to bring the staff up to full strength.
Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena, who had been 2-for-his-last-29 and left four runners on base during the early innings Saturday, had a one-out single in the ninth. Cash said Arozarena made an adjustment in his setup for his last two at-bats and felt encouraged moving forward. Arozarena’s single had an exit velocity of 113.4 – the hardest hit of his career.
“I feel much better,” Arozarena said through North, who interpreted. “Right there in the game, something came to me and I just wanted to try it in the game. We’re 20 games in. I’m working, and we’re just going to keep going and working towards the goal. “
Rays left-hander Josh Fleming is hoping for better results when he starts Sunday against the Twins. Based on his last outing, they can’t get much worse.
Fleming pitched two innings in Tuesday’s 8-4 defeat to the Mariners. He took the loss after being hit with a seven-run fourth inning. Even though all seven runs were unearned, Fleming found no consolation in that.
“Flushing it is definitely the best thing to do,” he said. “If you dwell on it too long, it will affect you for days to come. I’m not going to sit back and feel sorry for myself over a bad outing. That does nothing for you.
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“Any time you give up seven runs – unearned or not – you still feel like you could’ve done better. The beauty of baseball is you can have a bad outing, then bounce back with a good outing. ”
The Rays were reunited with their former ace, right-hander Chris Archer, who started Saturday’s game for the Twins. Archer was 55-69 with two All-Star Game appearances in two stints (2012-17, 2021) with the Rays, including last season, when he was limited to just six games due to injury and the death of his mother.
“Arch did a lot of good things in a Rays uniform,” Cash said. “He cares a lot. He was always a supportive teammate and took it on himself to help young teammates get comfortable at the big-league level. And he racked up a lot of innings and strikeouts with the league leaders. I’m happy he’s healthy. “
Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez, who died by suicide in January, will be honored during Sunday’s game, which coincides with the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Rays players will wear No. 98 stickers on their batting helmets and green ribbons on their chests throughout the month. There will be a moment of silence before Sunday’s game, and the pitcher’s mound at Tropicana Field will have a stencil of Ramirez’s number on its side.
“It’s something we all learned and learned the hard way,” Cash said. “The organization wants to pay tribute, and Jean’s family has been remarkable. We need to pay attention to this, do right by Jean and recognize what he meant to us. ”
The Rays will host an online auction, including the No. 98 Ramirez jerseys worn by players and a pair of cleats designed by Ramirez and worn by Brandon Lowe during the March 25 spring game. It will also include other equipment and memorabilia, such as autographed and authenticated bats from Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Zunino; a 2020 World Series ball; along with a 2021 All-Star Game ball and lineup card.
Fans can participate in the auction, running May 1-18, through raysbaseball.com/auctions.
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