Ernesto Frieri is a project, not much unlike many recent pitching acquisitions by the Rays. Either Jim Hickey has gotten extremely bored, or the Rays have such an asset in the pitching coach that wonky guys are a market inefficiency.
Back to Frieri. The former closer of the Angels has had a rough go recently, and Hickey is already tinkering with his mechanics. Roger Mooney has the story at the Tampa Tribune:
"That's why I'm here," Frieri said. "I've seen Hickey, he's the man. He knows what he's doing. He fixed a couple of guys before, and I hope I'm not the exception. I'm pretty sure he's going to give me the right information and I'm going to take advantage."
Frieri had 37-saves along side the 8-9 combo of fellow new Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen in 2013, but last season it all fell apart, with Frieri eventually traded then released before the year was done. In the article, his former catcher Bobby Wilson (now a Rays invitee to camp) talk about how difficult his stuff can be.
In just his second bullpen section, it seems he's getting the Fernando Rodney treatment of moving around the rubber.
"This is a guy who fits into that very pattern," Hickey said. "He's had a lot of success. It's not like we're hoping he can do something he's never done before. He's been there, he's done that, and we're simply hoping that with a little bit of information, a little bit of advice, a little bit of guidance, he can find that form he had before, which was an extremely productive relief pitcher."
Frieri was having trouble throwing the ball to the inside of the plate during Thursday's session. After Hickey's suggestions, Frieri was able to locate on both sides.
"He seems to be extremely eager to hear what we have to say," Hickey said. "You never know (how it will turn out), but at least it demonstrated his willingness to be open and try things."
As for the rest of camp, it's picture day in Port Charlotte, so get excited. Ridiculous and awkward photographs are soon to follow.
Just in time, Boog Powell was the final man to report to camp, delayed in California he was counting down the days on twitter. Matt Silverman noted Powell and Daniel Robertson were a bit younger than the Rays preferred to offer invites in an interview on Rays Radio earlier this off-season, but noted the A's had already extended the offer to each, and the Rays would not rescind.
Alex Colome is not in camp at the moment, due to visa issues that are keeping him in the Dominican; however, he was able to report to the Rays' training facility in his home country and has been working out under instruction there for at least the last week.
- The Tampa Bay Times continues to note the few pitchers who are not throwing on schedule with the rest of the staff, with Matt Baker highlighting Matt Moore (recovering from injury) and new acquisition Jose Dominguez as pitchers joining Drew Smyly a day off from the rest of their peers.
Moore is expected toi have a weird schedule (his target return is still "June-ish"), but Dominguez? Hey, we need to talk about something:
"(Dominguez) throws 100 mph," Cash said. "Whenever you want to throw, buddy, just go ahead and throw."
Cash said the coaching staff is flexible with pitchers' schedules, as long as the pitchers get themselves ready for the season.
"We're pretty open to whatever," Cash said. "They all know that we want them to pitch, ready to go. However we get there, that's fine."
I bet Trevor Bauer wishes he'd been traded here instead.
- Speaking of Bauer, headlining Baseball Prospectus this morning is a piece by the excellent Doug Thorburn on pitchers to watch in Spring Training this pre-season, including Drew Smyly. He's not a fan of Smyly's mechanics:
What to look for: Does Smyly still look like a drunken flamingo at release point? Is the persistent lean toward the third-base side still part of his delivery? Has he slowed down his pace of momentum?
- Yesterday our old friend RJ did a write up on the strange PECOTA projections for the 2015 Rays, and subjected it to the sniff test. However you might feel about the projections, you have to agree with his final statement:
Who are these guys? You don't know yet. That's okay, nobody does.
- The Hardball Times has the longest active playoff droughts for hitters today, after highlighting pitchers yesterday. So - many - Blue Jays.
- Mind the Gap: Ben Lindbergh has a required reading up on Grantland regarding the jump from the minors to the majors.
- For Fangraphs, Craig Edwards breaks down the payrolls of the American League, where you'll note the Rays are quite near a $75M payroll heading into Spring Training, not the drop off we all anticipated.
- Finally, the great Neil Solondz is finally on twitter. The Rays Radio pre- and post-game host is among the best interviewers in the game, I highly recommend you follow his work, or at least his account: