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View from the catwalk: The Rays have a surplus at DH

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Maybe send one back to 2009?

Tampa Bay Rays v Atlanta Braves
Who’s safe in the roster crunch.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Right now, and going into next season, the Rays have a DH crunch. Yesterday, C.J. Cron was a triple short of the cycle, going 3-3 and hitting his 25th home run.

MLB.com beat reporter Bill Chastain has been on top of the situation, previously reporting how Cash has explained to Cron that the Rays are limiting his playing time because they want to get a look at some other players. In today’s recap, Chastain has additional quotes from Cash and Cron. First from Cash:

“He’s handled himself like a pro,” Cash said. “It’s appreciated. It’s not easy. It doesn’t always make sense to a player. I understand all of those things, but we have to find some stuff out about position players. And we’re jammed up with a bunch of guys who can play first. A bunch of guys who can DH. That’s the way it goes sometimes. … You know what? Good problem to have.”

And here’s Cron:

“Everybody wants to play,” Cron said. “We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to play and have as many at-bats as possible. But at the same time, [Cash] explained the situation to me. And when they’re straightforward like that, it’s hard to question anything.

”You have to be thankful you’re in the big leagues and always try to get better. And try to prove that you belong in the big leagues and get every-day at-bats.”

At the same time, Marc Topkin wrote about the success and popularity of Ji-Man Choi, one of the guys siphoning off those at bats from Cron. From Topkin’s article, here’s Cash:

“Our guys upstairs did a good job recognizing he’d done some things, probably under the surface, especially against right-hand pitchers, and he’s got a knack for hitting the ball hard,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s done some good things for us. Talking to Ji-Man … there’s been a lot that he’s learned about himself, where he was putting so much pressure on himself early with some of his opportunities to get to the big leagues, whereas this environment allows him to relax a little bit, his teammates have allowed him to relax, and he’s kind of flourished in that role.’’

And here’s Mottola:

Hitting coach Chad Mottola said Choi has shown enough, with a combination of power and patience at the plate, that “we get to dream a little more.’’

Both DH candidates are under team control for next season, with Choi not reaching free agency until 2023.

Meanwhile, Rob Mains of Baseball Prospectus wrote about his theory (behind the paywall) that growing pitching staffs are eliminating the full-time DH, and are therefore partly responsible for the National League winning interleague play this year.

The Rays currently carry 13 pitchers. They also carry two true designated hitters. Rosters are about to expand, so this won’t be an issue in a few days (although the playing time will remain tight), but it’s probably not a sustainable roster construction for a full season. Something will have to give.

Rays Links

  • From a couple days ago, but in case you missed it, David Laurila spoke with Tyler Glasnow and Kyle Snyder. As with everything Laurila does, it’s a great interview.
  • Former-Ray Sean Rodriguez was designated for assignment, probably ending his time with the Pirates. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about his time there (h/t @steve_kinsella1). S-Rod was a standup guy in Tampa Bay, and it sounds like he was the same in Pittsburgh. Best of luck to him
  • Really solid work by Rays Twitter.
  • Call it The Dustup in Durham. Also, the Bulls clinched.
  • Topkin thinks that, with Durham primed for a playoff run, September won’t bring any mass callups.

Other Links