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Tampa Bay Rays news and links: Maybe it’s all superstition

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Jacob Faria is in a groove, and the “reason” is weird.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

When you read all of the articles by team beat reporters over the course of a season, you end up feeling like you know them. They all do their work in the same locker room, with the same players giving the same postgame material, but it comes out a little bit differently for each writer.

Often that means emphasizing slightly different stories. But sometimes it’s the same stories. Today the topics in the Tampa Bay Times and on MLB.com are exactly the same, so let’s play a game (one of the worst things about the demise of the Tampa Tribune is that now it’s Topkin or Mooney, not and, and our game is less interesting).

I’ll give you the source interview and then two quotes. You guess which comes from Marc Topkin’s story, and which from Bill Chastain’s. Use the links to check.

On Mallex Smith’s Speed

Here’s an interview with the player:

Article A:

Smith played all nine innings in leftfield, proving that the tightness in his hamstring that forced him to miss 11 games is no longer an issue.

“I need to know how far I can go right now,” he said. “(Thursday) was a good day to find out, a chilly day. It’s pretty cold in April pretty much everywhere we play (on the road).”

That is good, because Smith’s game is all about speed. Speed on defense. Speed on the bases. His ability to change a game with that speed will earn him a spot on the opening-day roster. Using it to create havoc on the bases will keep him in the big leagues.

”Speed is my game,” Smith said. “The better I can become at paying attention to the game and taking advantage of what the field is giving me, I’ll be okay.”

Article B:

“Having a nagging injury sideline you is nothing that you ever want, but sometimes it’s a part of the game,” Smith said. “I’m ready to play, and hopefully I get back into a rhythm before the season starts.”

Smith led off and played all nine innings in left field for the Rays. His footwork was also on display on the basepaths, as he went 2-for-5 with a stolen base, on an unseasonably chilly spring day at Dunedin Stadium.

”I needed to know how far I could go right now, and today was a good day to find out,” Smith said. “It was a pretty chilly day, and it’s pretty cold in April pretty much everywhere we play, so it was a good test.”

Smith led off the game with a single up the middle off of Blue Jays lefty Jaime Garcia. In the top of the fifth, Smith caught the entire Jays infield off-guard when he laid down a drag bunt, and outraced the late coverage to first base for his second hit of the day. Smith swiped second, and came around to score on a single by the next batter, Daniel Robertson.

”Speed’s my game,” Smith said. “The better I can become at paying attention to the game, and taking advantage of what the team is giving me, I’ll be OK.”

On Jacob Faria’s Good Outing

Here’s an interview with the player:

Article C:

“My slider was definitely the best pitch today,” Faria said. “I threw some changeups that were better -- and some that weren’t that good -- but for sure the slider. I was able to control it a lot more today than in the past, so I was really happy with it.”

It was his second consecutive solid start, after not allowing an earned run in four innings in his last trip to the mound. In his first three outings of the spring, Faria allowed eight earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. He walked five, hit one batter, and failed to strike out a single hitter during that stretch. Faria credited something as simple as tweaking his pregame routines so that he felt more comfortable heading into the last two starts.

”I think those first few [starts], I couldn’t get a grip on what was wrong, and with the last two, after the start against Minnesota -- the not-so-good one -- we kind of got a feeling for what was going wrong,” Faria said.

Article D:

Thursday was a good day to be Jake Faria.

He faced the Blue Jays and a cool but sun-drenched afternoon at Dunedin Stadium with his fiancé, Jessica Soto, in the stands. His slider was the best it has been all spring. His changeup was good. Fastball checked out fine.

Faria felt, he said, “a million percent” better than he had 11 days earlier when he came unglued against the Twins and couldn’t complete two innings of what was supposed to be a four-inning outing.

What changed?

The hop.

Not on his fastball, but when he plays catch beyond 90 feet.

Faria, the fourth of four starters in the Rays rotation, jumps straight up, lands, then throws the ball.

It was something he did last season when working with Rays first-year pitching coach Kyle Snyder, then coaching at Durham, and something he carried with him during his first six starts in the big leagues. Then Faria stopped and he began losing.

Why?

”No idea,” he said. “I got away from a very good habit.”

Faria did not do it during the beginning of spring training. It was not until after he allowed four runs on seven hits and walked two in 1 2/3 innings against the Twins that Snyder suggested he resume hopping when long tossing.

You see what Beat Reporter D did there with Faria? He got a lead, and then he tracked it down, corroborating Faria’s report of a change in pregrame routine with other sources (pitching coach Kyle Snyder). That, friends, is reporting.


Also, here’s the rest of the Rays Radio audio, with manager Kevin Cash:

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