Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and SiriusXM’s Inside Pitch tweeted Saturday that the Rays “are getting closer to recalling” top outfield prospect Wil Myers and that it “should happen” within the “next 10 days.”
But nobody else is corroborating Bowden’s report.
In fact, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says the Rays have not taken any steps toward promoting the talented 22-year-old because there is simply no place to put him. Kelly Johnson, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist have been doing a good job of handling the corner outfield spots and Luke Scott is the Rays’ full-time designated hitter. Myers needs to play every day, and there’s no way of guaranteeing him that kind of regular action right now at the major league level.
“We have a number of players in Triple-A who are knocking on the door,” Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said Saturday when asked specifically about a Myers callup. “We don’t look at a calendar to determine when to make a move. We have seen some already this year, and there are others whose time hasn’t come yet. Oftentimes it simply comes down to opportunity, like when an injury creates an opening. Until that opportunity arises, our players get to work on their game so they’re better prepared when the call comes.”
Myers is batting .286/.359/.515 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI in 57 games this season for the Durham Bulls. Tampa Bay will save money in the long run by letting him further marinate in the minors because they can avoid him qualifying for an extra year of arbitration as a Super Two. Though that window does close soon.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.