ST. PETERSBURG, FL. – It is no secret that bats are mostly cold, or at least chilly, throughout the majors. The Rays are no exception. They head into Monday night’s game in Oakland hitting a paltry .240. Yet, that figure is good for 10th in the majors.
The Rays went 5-4 on a homestand that concluded with a pair of losses to Rocco Baldelli’s Twins, and by a combined 18-4.
With a couple of exceptions, Rays hitters struggled mightily during the homestand and had a rough time of it in the season’s opening month.
- Randy Arozarena was 3-for-27 on the homestand, including an 0-for-15 skid, before picking up two hits Sunday. He has yet to homer this season, though maybe a couple of very hard-hit balls Sunday and one in his last at-bat Saturday (single) can get him going. He enters play Monday hitting .210 with five RBI.
- Brandon Lowe was 4-for-34 on the homestand before roping an eighth-inning double Sunday. He is hitting .181 on the season.
- Josh Lowe, who was optioned to Durham following Sunday’s game, was hitting .188 with 27 strikeouts in 64 at-bats. (Robert Dugger, who pitched 5 1/3 innings in his Rays debut Sunday, was also optioned to Durham. That brings the roster to the 26-player limit.)
- Mike Zunino was 4-for-43 (.093) in April with two RBI.
Even Wander Franco, who was held out of Sunday’s game on a precautionary basis due to right hamstring tightness, has struggled of late going for 4-for-27 in his last seven games.
“We have some key guys that are just not seeing the ball well right now,” said manager Kevin Cash. “We went 5-4 on the homestand and I think we have to take the long view, be patient and trust our belief in our guys.”
Wander’s okay: Speaking of Franco, following Sunday’s game manager Kevin Cash said the 21-year-old shortstop wanted to play, but thought it was best he be held out of the lineup with the hamstring acting up a bit.
“He was itching to play and was not thrilled with not playing, but we felt it was best (to keep him out of the lineup),” he said.
Cash noted the turf at Tropicana Field is a playing surface that Franco is not accustomed to, which is something that can take a toll on the lower extremities.
“When we have long homestands like this, there is no doubt there is a difference than playing on a grass field that he has normally played on,” he said.
Franco also sat out an April 18 game against the Cubs in Chicago when his hamstring tightened on him.
Honoring JR: May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the Rays honored Jean Ramirez by wearing a No. 98 sticker on batting helmets and a green ribbon on their uniforms during Sunday’s game against the Twins. There was also a moment of silence before the game in honor of the former bullpen catcher, who took his life in January.
“I thought the Rays did a really nice job that was set up by many people to honor Jean and raise awareness,” said Cash.
Competitive at the plate: Taylor Walls had a pair of throwing errors, one from third and one from short, in the series against Minnesota. He has, however, fielded his position extremely well and has done a nice job at the plate. The Florida State product, who doubled off former Seminoles teammate Cole Sands on Sunday, has reached base safely in 10 of his last 12 games. Overall, he his hitting .256 with a .407 on base percentage.
“He doesn’t expand out of the zone very much and he has done a good job of making the most of the opportunities,” said Cash. “He has really capitalized on some at-bats, getting on base and kind of setting table wherever he is hitting in the back half of the lineup.”
Sidelined: Ji-Man Choi (elbow) was placed on the 10-day IL Sunday, though he could join the team at some point on its 10-game trip….. Coaches Stan Boroski, Paul Hoover, Matt Quatraro and Kyle Snyder missed the last two games as a result of COVID-related issues. Dan DeMent, Rick Knapp and Brady North replaced them in the dugout…..Francisco Mejia (COVID), out since April 22, will play two games in Port Charlotte starting Monday night.
Western swing: The Rays open a 10-game trip in Oakland on Monday night, and without a day off. They will play three games against the A’s, followed by four in Seattle before returning to the Golden State for three games against the Angels. The Rays will finally get an off day, after playing 16 straight days, when they return home before opening a three-game series on May 13 against Toronto.