It has only been a few months since the Rays traded Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres, and yet it feels much fresher than that, for Rays fans and Snell alike.
Snellzilla, whose last moments with the team in live play were the much-debated early removal from Game Six of the World Series, has since spoken about that choice. What what we haven’t heard him talk about much was how he felt being a member of the Rays.
This week, he went on the Chris Rose Rotation — like the current Rays ace Tyler Glasnow did last week — to chat about his experience with the Padres, but also how it felt to leave the team he started with.
In the interview, which you can watch here, Snell gets very candid about the emotional ties he had to the Rays. When Rose asked him about missing his old club, and if he had to move on in order to focus on his new team, Snell said:
“I do catch myself saying “we” all the time as in Tampa. Which is weird. But I don’t think I have to move on from that. I’m aware of where I’m at. I’m aware that I’m a Padre I’m aware that this is my new team and this is the team they traded their guys to get me and they really wanted me and I’m aware of that. But I’m really big on what I feel.. I like to sit in it and understand why I’m feeling that way.”
He went on to explain that while he does enjoy his new team and he’s thrilled to be there, the bonds he made with the Rays and the people he worked with there are still important to him, and he refuses to say he can’t miss his old club.
“I’ll probably miss being a Tampa Bay Ray forever, but that’s because it was such a special place to me.”
When Rose pushed him to see who he stayed in touch with from the old club he talked mainly about the staff, mentioning pitching coach Kyle Snyder, Justin Su’a the Rays head of Mental Performance, and Joey Greany the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. He also brought up Erik Neander and Kevin Cash, saying he’s spoken to both a few times.
The one that pulls on the heartstrings, however, is Snell saying he calls up one of the Rays security guards regularly.
“Even Bird the security guard, I talk to him probably at least once or twice a month.”
Trevor May, recently signed by the Mets, joined him on the show, and instead of asking Snell about Game Six of the series, Rose asked May about it instead. Rose wondered how May would feel being in the bullpen, being asked to start warming up in that moment.
“I would have thought about saying ‘bullpen’s closed,’” May admitted, going on to say it’s not a choice that’s up to them, but the disappointment of seeing someone warming up was something he knew all too well. “I felt for you in a big way.”
Snell said that after the game many other pitchers and players reached out to him in the following weeks but he didn’t reply to many messages, choosing instead to go home and focus on a return to his routine.
“I was just chillin’. Once that happened I didn’t know how to feel it... I know how I felt, it was still just a numb moment. I couldn’t believe we lost.”
For many Rays fans that feeling of disbelief and not knowing how to feel continued not long after, when Snell was traded. But it helps, somewhat, to know how important his time and connections in Tampa Bay were to him, and that he still thinks “we” when he thinks of the Rays.
You can see part of the highlighted moments above in this clip.
“I do catch myself saying ‘we’ all the time as in Tampa… It’s not to say I don’t love being a Padre… All of the professional baseball I know was being a Ray… I’ve talked to Cash like three or four times on the phone.” -Blake Snell pic.twitter.com/aoemfYswN1— The Chris Rose Rotation (@RoseRotation) March 22, 2021