Danny Valencia is in The Best Shape of His Life

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From La Velle Neal of the Star-Tribune, reporting from Fort Myers this morning:

I headed over to the other side of the clubhouse, where Danny Valencia dresses. Get your urban dictionaries out, because Valencia wants everyone to know he’s “yoked,” this year.

He weighs about the same as he did last season but says it’s the best he’s ever felt.

“It’s night and day how I feel,” he said.“I really made a serious, conscious effort to get my body right. I feel like I can move and feel strong at the same time. “I  worked really hard,” he said, “ but I feel great., I’m a lot stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster than I’ve ever been.”

The proof will be in whether he can improve on that .246/.294/.383 line from last year.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.