Rays turn to rookie Matt Moore for ALDS Game 1 start

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Rays manager Joe Maddon is going all-in.

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the bespectacled skipper announced late Thursday evening that rookie left-hander Matt Moore will take the mound Friday in Texas for Game 1 of the Rays’ ALDS matchup with the Rangers.

James Shields probably would have been Maddon’s preferred option for Friday’s series opener, but the righty hurled 8 2/3 tough innings Monday against New York and the Rays want to keep him on normal rest. Shields will pitch Game 2 on Saturday night.

Moore, widely regarded as baseball’s top pitching prospect, has posted a 2.89 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio in 9 1/3 innings since earning a promotion to the major leagues just two weeks ago. The 22-year-old lefty fanned 11 Yankees hitters over five scoreless innings last week during the first start of his major league career.

It’ll be a mighty test for Moore — one that spawned real mental issues for a southpaw with similar hype back in the 2000 NLDS — but Maddon is simply putting his best foot forward. He’s trusting the talent. And we can’t wait to see how the youngster responds under the bright lights of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Didi Gregorius will wear a mask during games

Gregorius will wear a mask
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Didi Gregorius will wear a mask during games this year. That’s what the Phillies infielder tells the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“We are trying to go through the guidelines and trying to do everything we can do to stay safe, so, that’s why people see me walking around with a mask on and stuff. I am keeping myself safe, wearing a mask everywhere I go. So, I have to keep it on me all the time.”

Gregorius will wear a mask both while batting and out in the field, he said.

A big reason for it is that he has a chronic kidney condition which makes him “high risk” under Major League Baseball’s safety protocols. He could opt out if he wanted to but Gregorius, who signed a $14 million deal with the Phillies last winter, is a free agent again this coming offseason. He is coming off of a down year in 2019, having hit .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI across 344 plate appearances. Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018 and didn’t make his 2019 season debut until June 7. A big reason he took a one-year deal was to reestablish his value for next season’s go-around on the free agent market and he doesn’t want the long layoff going into what could be his last significant payday.

Major League Baseball is not requiring players or umpires to wear masks on the field during games or practices, though it is reportedly looking into clear face shields for home plate umpires to wear under their usual protective masks.

Gregorius will wear a mask to keep himself safe, he said, but he also notes in the article that “I think it adds safety for everybody, for me and people around me.” Here’s hoping, given his vulnerability, everyone around him is being as safe as he is.