Rays’ Shane McClanahan expects to do even better next start

Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times
·4 min read

Lefty Shane McClanahan earned rave reviews for his four-inning outing Thursday in his first start and regular-season appearance for the Rays. He allowed two runs on five hits, striking out five, throwing 42 of 59 pitches for strikes.

McClanahan figures he should be better when he takes the mound Tuesday in Anaheim.

“I definitely learned from (Thursday),” he said. “I talked a lot with (pitchers Michael) Wacha (Rich) Hill, (Ryan Yarbrough). I’m in a good spot. I talked with (pitching coach Kyle Snyder) a lot. A lot to work on and a lot of positive things going from that start. So I’m excited to get the ball (Tuesday).”

Rays manager Kevin Cash said there’s no specific adjustments McClanahan needs to make.

“Not really, and that’s a compliment,” Cash said. “We want to always find ways to improve and continue to make progress moving forward. And he will over time. I don’t know after four innings if it would be wise of us to really pinpoint anything.

“Not that we have anything, but that’s just not how we operate. We’re going to work really hard to continue to get him acclimated and as comfortable as possible. ... But coming off his last start, I don’t think there’s too much that we can say: ‘Just go out there and fill up the strike again, and your stuff is really, really good.’ ”

Cash said they aren’t planning to push McClanahan, 24, beyond the four- to five-inning mark for now, though could adjust if he has quick and stress-free innings.

Old friend alert

After Shohei Ohtani was ruled too sore to pitch as planned Monday (though okay to DH), the Angels switched to lefty Jose Quintana and moved ex-Ray Alex Cobb up to start Tuesday.

Cobb was not only a solid and dependable starter during his six seasons with the Rays, but he also was an asset — before and after his May 2015 Tommy John surgery — to Cash when he took over as a rookie manager that year.

“He meant a lot to me,” Cash said. “There’s a lot of things that are thrown at you your first year, first two years, of managing.

“Having a player like Alex, who just has a really consistent mindset and was able to understand the ups and downs of a season, the challenging decisions, whether they’re in game, or whether they’re working inside a clubhouse, whatever it was, Alex was just very level-headed and just had a really, really good perspective. Somebody that I valued and I know our organization valued. He was great with the younger pitchers and obviously stating that, he had a lot of success here.”

Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier also praised Cobb — or “Cobber Dobber” as he called him — noting how he looks out for younger players and “takes a lot of pride in what he does on and off the field.”

Minor matters

The Rays’ four full-season minor-league teams start play Tuesday, a welcome return to action since the 2020 season was canceled. The set-up is different, with Bowling Green (Ky.) now the High A team and the other affiliate switched from Port Charlotte to Charleston (S.C.), with the RiverDogs now the Low-A team. Montgomery (Ala.) is still the Double-A team and Durham (N.C.) the Triple-A squad, with most of their top prospects there, including consensus No. 1 Wander Franco.

Here are the scheduled Tuesday starters; Durham, Chris Ellis; Montgomery, Shane Baz; Bowling Green, Peyton Battenfield; Charleston, John Doxakis.

Miscellany

⋅ Cash and former Rays/now Angels manager Joe Maddon had kind words about each other in pre-game Zoom interviews; the Rays went 2-2 against Maddon when he was with the Cubs.

⋅ Reliever Pete Fairbanks (shoulder) looked “very, very good” in another 12-14 pitch simulated inning Monday, Cash saying they’ll check to see how he feels Tuesday and that he is “very close” to being activated.

⋅ Reliever Collin McHugh (back) will throw another multi-inning session Wednesday, then be re-evaulated.

⋅ Catcher Kevan Smith is the only player on the taxi squad, as the team wanted to allow other minor-leaguers to be with their teams for the season openers.

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