ST. PETERSBURG — Rich Hill knows all the tricks of the trade. At 41 and a veteran of 11 major-league teams, he’s seen a few things.
While dissecting his last two outings, in which he combined to allow eight runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings to the Royals and Rangers, he wondered aloud Sunday whether baserunners at second have been stealing pitches.
Hill says he has pitched well but has fallen victim to one big inning in each game.
“I think it’s a little bit of runner on second base being able to relay signs from out of my glove,” Hill said. “So I need to make an adjustment with my glove so I’m not exactly showing the runner on second what pitch I’m throwing. Because my glove is pretty open towards the second baseman and they can see into my glove, where you know, they can see the grip on the pitch, whatever I’m throwing. So then they can relay it to the hitter.”
Hill pitched a brief bullpen session before Sunday’s game and hopefully got it ironed out before Monday’s game against the recently red-hot A’s.
Catchers provide offense
After 21 games, the Rays are getting some solid contributions at the plate — as well as behind it — from catchers Mike Zunino and Francisco Mejia.
Entering Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays, Mejia was batting .286 with three doubles and a home run. Zunino’s average is .190 but four of his eight hits are home runs and he has two doubles. Combined, that’s a lot of production with five homes runs and 15 runs batted in. Mejia went 1-for-4 Sunday.
“They’ve been outstanding,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Zunino has worked really hard and sometimes the batting average doesn’t show exactly. He’s had plenty of barreled-up balls and just a couple of misses, and he’s had a handful of balls that have left the ballpark in big situations. And Mejia, a little bit different approach. It’s more of a contact-oriented approach.
“I think our catching position, this early month of the season, they’ve done really well. That tandem together, they’ve complemented each other well, they’ve come up big offensively and they’ve done a really nice job behind the plate.”
Honeywell’s short starts may continue
Brent Honeywell will continue to be used as an opener with short outings.
Honeywell was the opener versus the Blue Jays on Saturday, working on three days’ rest and needing 30 pitches to get through his first and only inning. He allowed a three-run homer to Randal Grichuk after first baseman Yandy Diaz failed to catch a foul pop that would have been the third out.
Given some of his injuries, the Rays want to be careful while building up his arm strength.
“I think we’re going to take a look at how he bounces back and if it goes well, I think we all would be open to him coming back on shorter outings,” Cash said. “I don’t think any of us view Brent as a one-inning guy, but it might be worthwhile to test it and see how he does. He threw an inning (Saturday). His next outing could be one or two, a little shorter, condensed, just to see how he bounces back.
“To his credit, he’s been very, very honest. I think he’s gotten to the point in his young career, it’s been all in the terms of his injuries and rehab, of understanding the value of being honest and letting us know. He’s going to impact us but we’ve got to get there the right way where he’s bouncing back good and he feels good every time he takes the ball.”
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