HomeTeamsRaysThe Rays Hot Starts and Cold Beginnings

The Rays Hot Starts and Cold Beginnings

With the first two weeks of Spring Training behind us, let us see who is off to a hot start or a cold beginning. This assessment of performance is from my perspective and no special formula was used. I purposely left poor performers off the cold beginning list if they were categorized as non-roster invitees. Non-roster invitees usually have a low chance of making the team. It was difficult to evaluate the pitchers. Pitchers normally have short outings to prevent injuries. I did add them to the list.


OF Ruben Cardenas – This non-roster invitee has been tearing up the ball this spring. Cardenas was 6 for 14 with seven RBIs in this brief time. The 26-year-old outfielder has been in the minors for the Guardians and Rays for the past several seasons. He has an impressive slash line of .429/.429/1.286 (BA/OBP/OPS). He has a particularly good chance of making the team.

2B Jose Caballero – This smooth fielding infielder is putting on a show with his bat. Although he only has eight at-bats, Caballero has three hits and displays baserunning skills with three runs. How can Kevin Cash send a batter with a .375 BA, .500 OBP, and 1.125 OPS back down to the minors?

DH Harold Ramirez – The veteran did what veterans do- they hit! Ramirez has been red hot by getting four hits in nine at-bats. The DH is in midseason form. He collected an RBI and is batting .444 with a 1.000 OPS. He is ready for the regular season.

SS Junior Caminero – Caminero’s hot start has been exceptional. His spring training numbers have matched nearly all his last season totals. In 10 at-bats, Caminero has three hits and four RBIs. Caminero recorded eight hits in 34 at-bats with only seven RBIs in 2023. Looks like he has his hitting shoes on. I am sure this is a welcoming situation for Kevin Cash with the hole at shortstop.

SS Greg Jones – Another infielder battling for the vacant shortstop position is Greg Jones. Jones cannot be overlooked with a .500 (5-10) batting average. One of his five hits was a home run. He has two RBIs and has been successful on the basepaths with four runs. This springs’ numbers have surpassed Jones’ numbers from 2021-2023 combined. In addition, Jones’ strike out count has dropped significantly.

P Brendan McKay – I wanted to add McKay to the hot start list for overcoming many obstacles. McKay has not pitched at the major league level since the 2019 regular season due to injury. The once prized possession of the Rays’ rotation pitched only one inning but struck out two of the three batters faced. Is he at the top of his game? Not sure but this is a good start. This rotation could use his help.

P Trevor Brigden – Another non-roster invitee that is drawing attention. Brigden pitched 3.1 solid innings and accumulated six strikeouts in that abbreviated period. Is he for real?

Now, for the cold beginnings. Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said, a slump is like a warm soft bed. It is easy to get into but very difficult to get out of.


2B Brandon Lowe – A lot of hype surrounded his return, but a 0-7 start was not anticipated. His job as starting second baseman is not in jeopardy for now. Hopefully, he will heat up. He missed a lot of time last season. It could be a timing issue with his swing that he could work out before the regular season starts.

OF Randy Arozarena – The fan-favorite has not collected a single hit yet this spring. Somehow, he pushed a run across the plate for his sole RBI. An OPS of .167 is not good.

1B Yandy Diaz – This is the most surprising. The league leader in batting average, with .330, is off to a frigid beginning. A lone hit and two RBIs in nine at-bats is very uncharacteristic of the first baseman. These spring training games are meaningless, but management and fans always enjoy a good start for their players. This cold beginning will not last long and Yandy’s bats will return to last season’s temperature.

P Zach Eflin – The current ace of the pitching staff got rocked in his only appearance. Eflin could not complete two full innings. The Braves scored four (earned) runs on four hits and a home run. Eflin’s ERA ballooned to 21.60. Brrr…


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