Austin Meadows hopes to be healthy for Rays opening day


PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Austin Meadows was cautiously optimistic Monday that he would be ready for Opening Day a day after going out early at LECOM Park early due to bilateral quad tightness, as the Rays hope they won’t. won’t have to put him on the injured list to start the season.

Meadows said he felt his two quads tighten in the Rays’ 9-2 win over the Pirates on Sunday in Bradenton, and rather than risk further injury he decided to pull out of the game after the first. handle. The outfielder took a full day off Monday, but the plan is for him to return to the batting box to face right-hander Chris Mazza in a live batting practice Tuesday morning.

“Obviously with opening day close, I just felt like it was the best decision to go out, get treatment and deal with it,” Meadows said Monday morning. “I feel better than I thought, so that’s always a plus. We’ll just see where we go in the next few days.

Manager Kevin Cash said at this point he expects Meadows to be on the Rays’ opening day roster on Friday against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. Lists must be completed by noon ET Thursday.

Meadows said he felt like it was “completely doable” given the improvement he had already felt within 24 hours, but opted to take a more daily approach.

“Today the most important thing was to see how I feel. If I felt worse, I don’t think we would be talking about opening day,” Meadows said. well, better than expected for myself, so we’ll see where we are.”

Meadows said he felt his quads tighten after running first on a first-inning RBI single and then running into left field, at which point he realized, “It’s not smart to try to push him.” But it might not be something Meadows did on the court that made his quads worse. He thinks it may have been linked to his trips to and from the ballpark this spring, as he commuted about an hour and 15 minutes each way from his Tampa-area home to Charlotte Sports Park every days during spring training.

“It could be attributed more to that commute, just being in the car for two and a half hours, three hours a day. It’s the only thing I can really think about,” Meadows said. “I went in yesterday feeling good and everything was fine, then it tightened up on me. I can’t really put my finger on it.

around the horn
• Josh Fleming, competing for a spot as a loose/long innings option in the opening day bullpen, was only tagged to work three innings when he left Monday against the brave. Instead, the southpaw was so effective that he came back for a fourth inning in the Rays’ 8-2 loss at Charlotte Sports Park.

Fleming allowed two runs on three hits and recorded one strikeout, but his outing was most notable for his efficiency: It took him 41 pitches to register 11 strikeouts, and 29 of those pitches were strikes.

“I feel really good. The arm felt good, the body felt good,” Fleming said. “I was quite surprised when [pitching coach Kyle] Snyder told me I could go back. … He wanted me to work a little more on the cutter, the curveball, the switch, so that’s pretty much all I was throwing. But they all felt really good.

• Another highlight for Fleming was his defensive work. The fast-working southpaw took a Travis d’Arnaud return off the bottom of his right heel — “where I didn’t feel it at all,” Fleming said — but recovered quickly to cover first base and receive the Yandy Díaz’s throw to record the last out of the second inning. As Cash said, “You’re not going to see many better plays than he did.”

“I had 1,000 people say, ‘Are you okay? You’re okay? “, Fleming added with a smile. “Yes I am fine. If I wasn’t good, I’d probably be on the floor, screaming.

• Leading off, second baseman Brandon Lowe reached safely against Braves starter Ian Anderson on a bunt single. He spoke with last week about his hopes for the season.

• The Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham opens its season against Nashville at 7:35 pm ET on Tuesday. Relief prospect Calvin Faucher, who impressed with his dazzling curveball earlier this spring, is tentatively set to start at flyhalf, followed by right-hander Easton McGee.

The Rays will break camp and head north Tuesday after a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Braves at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. Right-hander Corey Kluber is set to pitch for Tampa Bay, apparently setting him up to start the Rays’ third game of the season on Sunday. After Tuesday’s game, they have only one exhibition left — a matchup with the Phillies on Wednesday at Tropicana Field — ahead of Friday’s regular season opener with the Orioles.


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