CLEARWATER — LHP Blake Snell's goal this spring is to gain better command of his fastball, but there he was in the first inning Monday during his Grapefruit League debut against the Phillies, missing above the strike zone.
2 Weeks Ago
1 Week Ago
1 Week Ago
The problem? His left shoulder was coming open during his delivery.
Snell identified the issue, made an adjustment and finished the inning by throwing nine of his last 10 pitches for strikes.
"It was kind of cool to see I was shaky at first with the fastball. I threw no strikes with it, and the next inning throwing nothing but strikes with it," he said. "It was coming out good. I felt more confident. Not that I wasn't confident to start, but I finally felt like I knew what I was doing again."
Manager Kevin Cash said that needs to be the next step in Snell's progression as the pitcher enters his second year at the major-league level.
"Fastball efficiency and command," Cash said. "Nothing really from a pitch-choice standpoint, but I think as soon as Blake can establish throughout this league that he can come in and throw strikes with his fastball, he's going to put himself in a really good category of starting pitchers."
Fleet of foot
DH Corey Dickerson drew a first-inning walk and scored and homered to left in his last at-bat, but his biggest takeaway from Monday's game against the Phillies was going from first to third on 2B Nick Franklin's single.
"Really, that was probably the highlight of my day," Dickerson said. "Get on the bases and be able to go first to third was pretty nice for the first time I got on base (in the game) and feel like I can run a little bit."
Dickerson dropped 25 pounds in the offseason in an effort to round out his game. Adding a little more speed will help.
As for the opposite-field homer, those will come. Five of his 24 homers last season were to leftfield.
"I feel I'm gifted with hand-eye coordination. The weight stuff doesn't matter with the power," Dickerson said. "It's more or less squaring more balls up, seeing better pitches, hit the pitches I want to and get my average back up, less strike outs. Things like that."
Nick Franklin, one of only three members of the major-league roster to make the trip Monday to Clearwater, said before the game he was feeling under the weather and not to put too much stock in his performance. The second baseman went 2-for-2, including a double to deep center, had a walk and scored a run.
Quote of the day
"I don't care about his wheels on the bases. I like the fact he hit the ball out of the ballpark."
Kevin Cash , on DH Corey Dickerson
Game report: Rays beat Phillies 7-2
RF Shane Peterson hit a two-run homer, a double and scored twice. … RHP Ryan Garton, a Clearwater native, impressed manager Kevin Cash with his efficient work in 1⅔ innings despite giving up a wind-aided long home run to left by 3B Maikel Franco in the fourth. … RHP Diego Moreno turned in another scoreless outing, this one over two innings.
> Evan Longoria is scheduled to make his debut this afternoon against the visiting Twins at third base. He is expected to DH on Wednesday against the visiting Phillies.
> Manger Kevin Cash has said 2B Brad Miller will get some innings at short in the spring and that's supposed to begin today as Miller is scheduled to start there against the Twins.
> C Nick Ciuffo left the game with a left quad contusion after being struck with a foul tip in the seventh inning. He remained in the game, singled in the top of the eighth but was lifted for a pinch-runner as a precaution.
> Now that Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater has been named Spectrum Field, it can be said a Philadelphia team is once again playing at the Spectrum.
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