Bring on the Rays’ youth brigade! It’s time

by Gary Shelton on June 8, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Bauer catches a popup just outside of the dugout./JEFFREY S. KING

Bauer catches a popup just outside of the dugout./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

Now, here's a novel thought about the youth of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Bauers had a solid debut for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Bauers had a solid debut for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Bring them on.

Bring a dozen of them. Heck, bring a legion of them. Bring Willie Adames and Tobias Myers and Nick Solak. Bring Lucius Fox and Garrett Whitley and Nick Ciuffo. If you can find a young pitcher who hasn't had Tommy John surgery, promote him, too.

Shoot, if the Rays are going to lose -- and they lost their seventh straight on Thursday night, 5-4 to Seattle -- well, wouldn't you rather see young players making their mistakes instead of veterans? Wouldn't you rather see a kid like Jake Bauers, who was about as impressive as you can be in a 0-for-4 performance?

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Pruitt pitched seven innings but took the loss./JEFFREY S. KING

Pruitt pitched seven innings but took the loss./JEFFREY S. KING

The Rays are now one off their longest losing streak of the season and two away from the major league's longest losing streak.

You know what Bauers looked like Thursday night? He looked like the future. He hit balls hard, and he fielded well, and he looked like ... well, something. Who else are you going to get behind.

Field had a bases-loaded double in the ninth./JEFFREY S. KING

Field had a bases-loaded double in the ninth./JEFFREY S. KING

"As far as Jake Bauers goes, in my opinion it was pretty impressive debut," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "He caught everything at him, made some plays and had a lot of good at-bats. A lot of hard outs.”

Bauers hit two liners that the second baseman took away from him. He was called out on a checked swing in the ninth.

Cash seemed to like the future, too.

“His at-bats, his presence in the box, he’s going to hit a lot of balls hard," Cash said. "If he gets swinging like he did tonight, he’s going to get a lot of hits and going to have a lot of success. Impressed with the overall confidence. But seeing it in his big league debut, to go up there, fall behind a

Robertson hit a home run for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Robertson hit a home run for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

couple at-bats and then find  some pitches that he could get the barrel to. Even the first out that he hit to Denard, Denard was playing deep, but he got every bit of that ball right on the line. Wasn’t trying to do too much and stayed on. The other two hits, got beat by the shift.”

Look, we've seen today. Today looks like a team that can beat the worst teams of the league, but they struggle against the better ones. Tampa Bay is now 5-21 against teams in either first or second- place, and four of those wins came in the 13 games against the Red Sox.

And we've seen yesterday. Thursday night was a reminder of all that was Alex Colome, the struggles to close the door, giving up a bases-loaded double to Johnny Field that made the final score close.

Stanek started for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

Stanek started for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING

What we haven't seen is tomorrow.

And isn't it time?

Look, we've all heard about the pending youth movement. Well, let's get on with it.

“I felt good," Bauers said. "It felt like a normal baseball game. That’s what I was hoping for. Not too jittery, not too over-the-top anxious on anything. Tried to go out there and play a good baseball game.”

“I don’t really know (when it sunk in). I don’t know if it really has still. I was trying to approach it like any other game even though obviously it’s not. I

Cash watches his team lose yet again./JEFFREY S. KING

Cash watches his team lose yet again./JEFFREY S. KING

think when I hit that first ball to left and I hit it pretty well, I was like ‘dang, you’re here.’ It’s a great feeling all around. Wish we could have gotten the win, battled back at the end. I’d say it was a good day for me.”

Cash was encouraged by his team scoring three times in the ninth.

"Hopefully we can take that as the silver lining a little bit because there hasn’t been much lately when you lose 6-7 in a row like we have," Cash said. "You have to find some positives. And to do that against Alex (Colomé), is good. We were one hit away from tying it up. Johnny Field came up and really capitalized with an opportunity with the bases loaded. We need something like that to carry us over to tomorrow.”

The Rays play Game Two of the series tonight. Wilmer Font starts for the Rays against Marco Gonzales at 7:10 p.m.

Wendle dives, but can't corral the ball./JEFFREY S. KING

Wendle dives, but can't corral the ball./JEFFREY S. KING

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