ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell reported for work, after all.
The 27-year-old Snell made headlines in May when he said he opposed the idea of players taking further pay reductions to start the season during a pandemic — that it was not worth the health risk. But he said Friday it wasn't difficult to start playing again after the players' agreement with Major League Baseball included their full pro-rated salaries.
“I would say it wasn’t tough when it came down to what the (union) agreed on," he said. "I like to follow through to what I say. So for that to be the case, definitely happy about that. ... With all the precautions MLB’s taking, it makes it easy to play. Everyone here is just super on their toes about it, so I feel very comfortable about it.”
Snell is looking to bounce back after he was hampered by injuries last year. The left-hander was 21-5 with an American League-best 1.86 ERA in 2018, winning the Cy Young Award. But he went 6-8 with a career-high 4.29 ERA last season.
He agreed to a $50 million, five-year contract in March 2019 that included a $3 million signing bonus, a $1 million salary last year and a $7 million salary this season.
Snell said most of what he said in May was “correct.” Said if he were to apologize for anything, it would be the way he began his comments by declaring he had to get his money to play.
“The only thing about it that I didn’t like with what I said was just ‘I’ve gotta get mine.’ That was pretty bad," he said. "Everything else I said past that was pretty correct. But just how I started it, I could see how it could anger people, so I’d apologize for that. Everything after that was pretty spot on with what we’re doing right now.”
Tampa Bay's workout at Tropicana Field included 32 of 37 players initially expected to work out at the team’s regular-season home.
Manager Kevin Cash did not identify who was not there, however infielder José Martínez, pitchers Yonny Chirinos and Chaz Roe, and non-roster catchers Chris Herrmann and Kevan Smith were not listed among the groupings of participating players.
Herrmann and Smith instead were at the club’s spring training facility in Port Charlotte, where the remainder of the 60-player pool is working. The status of Martínez, Chirinos and Roe was unclear.
“Given all the protocols, guidelines that we’re trying to follow, we’re not going to get into specifics," Cash said. "There were a variety of reasons as to why we weren’t at 100% attendance. But as far as the workout today, it went really well.’’
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