According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will give Sergio Romo his first major league start Saturday, though the plan is to have him work just the first and maybe part of the second inning.
The key here is that the Rays are facing an Angels team that stacks a bunch of right-handers at the top of the lineup. Shohei Ohtani pitches Sunday, so he’s probably not going to start Saturday. The other two lefties the Angels play fairly regularly, Kole Calhoun and Luis Valbuena, have both struggled and are hitting in the bottom half of the order. The Angels could move someone up in response to the Rays starting Romo, but the Rays probably wouldn’t care overly much. If the Angels use their normal lineup, Romo would face Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton and, if necessary, Albert Pujols in the first.
The plan is for lefty Ryan Yarbrough to relieve Romo, perhaps to start the second or the first time a lefty is due up. Yarbrough has started his last three times out and could pitch as many as 5-6 innings in relief against the Angels.
Romo, who broke into the majors with the Giants 10 years ago, has made 588 relief appearances without a start. He has made a few one- and two-inning starts in rehab appearances in the minors through the years, but he was last a regular starter in A-ball in 2006.
Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s past time when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:
Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.
Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.
At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.
Still, this is whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface baseball has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.
It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. It could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on occasion in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, so you know that was off the table in this day and age.
Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.