TORONTO — The Rays figure Jason Adam is going to be bragging for a while about the double play he made to end Sunday’s game, when he reached behind his back to snare Kevin Kiermaier’s line drive.
“(Colin Poche) said it best, ‘We’re never going to hear the end of that,’ ” starter Shane McClanahan said. “J.A. is going to ride that until he dies about him being an athlete or whatever. It was a great play. Maybe a little luck, but you never know. J.A. is a good athlete, so I don’t know. Ball found him I guess.”
Adam said, with a straight face, he had been working on it.
“I felt like it was a pretty textbook play,” he said.
With the ball coming off Kiermaier’s bat at 91.1 mph, Adam said when he realized it was going behind him he just reacted.
“Once I got the cheeks out of the way, I felt like it was a done deal,” he said. “I felt it went right in the pocket (of my glove). So I felt good about it.”
Adam went down to a knee after making the grab, then tossed the ball to second to double off Santiago Espinal for the final out.
“That was an amazing play,” catcher Christian Bethancourt said. “Hopefully he makes it to the (ESPN) SportsCenter top 10.”
Adam, who said he’ll try to limit his gloating to just a few days, said the top 10 should be automatic.
“I think the question is if I get the Gold Glove or not.”
With Zach Eflin (back tightness) and Jeffrey Springs (elbow/arm) out, the Rays are without set starters for the first two games in Cincinnati.
Lefty Jalen Beeks will be the opener Monday, and manager Kevin Cash said the bullpen is “in fine shape” after McClanahan went six innings Sunday.
But the Rays could decide to add depth by calling up a pitcher able to cover multiple innings. Right-hander Cooper Criswell would appear to be an option, as he last pitched at Triple-A on Thursday and was limited to three innings. Criswell, who made one appearance for the Rays last year, would have to be re-added to the 40-man roster, with a shift of Shawn Armstrong from the 15- to 60-day injured list an option. The Rays also would have to make room on the active roster.
With the Rays expected to get clarity soon on Springs’ exact injury and the treatment plan and place him on the injured list, 22-year-old prospect Taj Bradley, who made an impressive debut last week, could be recalled and start Tuesday.
McClanahan said the pitchers are trying to give Springs space to deal with the injury, which best case will sideline him for two months. “This is tough on him and tough on all of us,” he said. “All we can do is think about him and pray for him, keep him in the forefront of our minds. We know he’s going to be back as quickly as he can.”
McClanahan said it was “definitely weird” to face Kiermaier, the long-time Ray who signed with the Jays as a free agent. McClanahan struck him out the first time, then gave up a double, offering Kiermaier a smile and a few choice words.
“I called him a name, then I got back to it,” McClanahan said. “He knew it was all love though. We talked when the inning got done. It was good to see the guy.”
As for sharing what he called Kiermaier? “No,” McClanahan said to a group of reporters. “Definitely not on TV.”
The Rays have homered in their first 16 games, the second-longest season-starting streak in major-league history behind Seattle’s 20 in 2019. … Wander Franco was shifted from shortstop to DH about 1 ½ hours before game after telling the staff his right shoulder didn’t feel right from sleeping on it wrong, and he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Cash said he was “very optimistic” Franco would play Monday. … Randy Arozarena, 1-for-7 in the first two games in Toronto, got his first day off of the season. … The eight relievers had a group dinner at Toronto’s Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse on Saturday, with oysters, salads and several cuts of meat. “We did it family style,” Beeks said. “It was fun.”
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