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Pitchers And Catchers Get Started With First Workout

New Rays pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa throws his first bullpen session of Spring Training under the watchful eye of pitching coach Kyle Snyder (back right) (photo: Tampa Bay Rays)

Tampa Bay Rays pitchers and catchers officially began their season Wednesday at Charlotte Sports Park, with a number of bullpen sessions taking place along with fielding practice for the pitchers and batting practice for catchers.

For manager Kevin Cash, it was a chance to get all the pitchers out on the fields together for the first time to run through drills, and start to get to know some of the new faces in camp.

“Good ​to ​see ​the ​pitchers ​get ​off ​the ​mound,” Cash said after practice concluded.  “​Just ​saw ​some ​guys ​take ​ground ​balls ​and ​the [catchers take] ​BP.”

One pitchers everyone has been interested in seeing is right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa, who the team signed to a minor-league deal during the off-season.  Uwasawa was one of the pitchers who threw a bullpen session Wednesday, and Cash said it’s been good getting to know him.

“[He’s] just a very personable guy,” Cash said.  “He’s ​done ​a ​lot ​of ​really ​good ​things ​over ​in [Japan], ​and ​we’re ​fortunate ​that ​we ​have ​him ​over ​here. ​He ​seemed ​very ​eager ​to ​get ​with ​Kyle [Snyder], ​see ​what ​was ​going ​to ​help ​him ​be ​the ​best ​version ​of ​himself ​over ​here ​in ​this ​league. ​But just ​impressed ​with ​how ​excited ​he ​was ​to ​be ​here ​and ​kind ​of ​ingrain ​himself ​within ​the ​clubhouse.”

Uwasawa said his meetings with Snyder were a big reason he decided to forego taking a major league deal with another club and instead come to Tampa Bay.

“Obviously, I thought this was the right spot to continue playing in the states,” Uwasawa said through translator Taishi Terashima.  “I’m looking forward to working with all the guys.”

The right-hander said after signing that he wanted to pitch as many innings as possible, which is certainly a welcome offering to Cash, especially after seeing Tyler Glasnow get traded and not having Shane McClanahan pitch this year, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen not returning until the second half of the season at the earliest, and Shane Baz being on a limited workload.

I ​don’t ​know ​how ​many ​that’s ​going ​to ​be, ​but ​we’ll ​take ​any ​pitcher ​that ​says ​that ​they ​like ​to ​pitch ​a ​lot ​of ​innings.” Cash said.

Another aspect that struck Cash about Uwasawa was his youthful demeanor.

“I ​can’t ​believe ​I ​asked ​him ​how ​long ​he’s ​played ​for,” Cash laughed.  “​He ​said ‘​twelve ​years.’  ​He ​looks ​like ​he’s ​18 ​years ​old.”

Listen to Cash’s conversation below, where he also discusses Zach Eflin‘s leadership role, Zack Littell‘s move into the rotation, and what he expects from Baz as well as Taj Bradley.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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