Rays search for answers as season begins

by Gary Shelton on July 24, 2020

in general

Can Morton be as good as last season?/JEFFREY KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

It's the latest Opening Day ever.

It will be the quickest season ever.

There will be more playoff teams than ever.

And as the players play, they will attempt to ignore the fact that disease is in the air.

And off we go, into the strangest baseball season of them all. Baseball has tweaked its game in the face of the Covid-19 virus, adding a universal DH,

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putting the careers of several stars (and umpires), limited fans, canceled games, expanded rosters and whittled down the season until this is what is left: a 60-game sprint that the sport hopes will pass as a legitimate season.

So where were the Rays when we last left them?

-- Charlie Morton had turned into a dependable, age-defying ace of the staff.

-- The previous ace, Blake Snell, had dipped something awful.

-- Shortstop Willy Adames had become a reliable young shortstop.

-- Reliever Neil Anderson had become one of the best in baseball.

-- Austin Meadows, now injured, was a blossoming star. How long he will be out is a big deal.

-- Kevin Kiermaier still has an amazing glove, but he doesn't hit enough.

-- Mike Zunino cannot hit. Still.

-- Tyler Glasnow had a nice start, but in the end, the Astros were able to cheat their way to a victory over him.

-- Brandon Lowe missed almost half of last season. He needs to heal quicker.

-- It's easy to like Ji-Man Choi.

-- It's easy to wonder if Jose Alvarez has discovered the cure for "ball four."

Then there are this year's questions:

-- Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has a promising bat, but where will the Rays play him the field?

-- Can Hunter Renfroe make anyone forget about Tommy Pham?

-- Will the short season help the Rays or make it too difficult to endure a long losing streak?

As always, sports is in a constant search for answers. That will be true this year, too.

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