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Kevin Cash defends “The Opener” and Jake Bauers in winter meetings press conference

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MLB: Winter Meetings Daniel Clark-USA TODAY Sports

The Winter Meetings are officially underway, as Kevin Cash met with the assembled media for an opening press conference to discuss a variety of Rays related subjects.

Of course, the most popular of those subjects was about ‘The Opener’ strategy, which Kevin Cash and the Rays pitching staff pioneered during the 2018 season. Cash reiterated his previous comments,confirming The Opener will be back in 2019 and its usage will adjust based on who Cash has at his disposal.

There has been talk recently, around the game, about the possibility of the shift being banned. Cash was asked about this as well, and the Rays manager responded by saying that he loves shifting, but if it were to be banned, they would find other ways (within the rules) to improve their chances on the field.

The Rays early offseason indications that they’re big game hunting on the market also brought some questions Cash’s way. He answered them by stating that their current roster makeup is pretty good as is, and if they’re trying to improve somewhere, Cash’s preference is for the team to add pitchers.

MLB: Winter Meetings Daniel Clark-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of pitchers, Cash noted Brent Honeywell’s rehab is progressing and although the team’s top pitching prospect would like to be ready to go by the end of spring training, Cash says that they are targeting a late-May, early-June return for him to game action. Cash, however, fairly noted that they’ll ultimately wait until Honeywell is 100% and be smart about his rehab.

Regarding a couple of their position players, Cash was asked about Jake Bauers late season struggles, which Cash rebutted, saying that Bauers has always dealt with some struggles during his initial promotions, but always rebounded. Cash also noted that Bauers plate approach and swing mechanics were the same as when he was running hot back during the first half of the season and he is confident that Bauers will be better in 2019.

Also of note, per Cash: Tommy Pham came to the Rays, following the season, and requested the permission to play in the winter leagues so he could refine his swing, as he wasn’t happy with it. The Rays, somewhat reluctantly, allowed Pham to proceed to play in the offseason league. As his offseason workout videos have shown on Instagram, the man can’t be stopped, and is constantly working to improve.

For the full press conference, you can view the team’s periscope here.

Cash has also been continuing the media tour with stops on television and radio, and has continued to defend the quality of his team at every turn. You can view more below: