It’s just spring, it’s just spring, it’s just spring.
When it’s March, that’s the mantra any time a pitcher gets slapped around or a position player goes 0-for-the week.
So when Jake Faria exited his third spring start earlier than expected Sunday afternoon in Port Charlotte, there were probably plenty of Tampa Bay Rays fans giving themselves that calming, internal pep talk.
It’s just spring.
The Minnesota Twins came to Charlotte Sports Park and roughed up the promising 24-year-old righty for five runs, four earned, on seven hits and two walks in just an inning and two-thirds. He said afterward that the goal was to complete four innings.
Following Sunday’s 6-5 loss, Rays manager Kevin Cash said that Faria’s feeling fine but hasn’t been able to find a consistent rhythm.
Faria also failed to strike out any of the 14 batters he faced Sunday, meaning he has yet to sit anyone down on strikes in three brief outings over 4 1/3 innings. His only spring Ks came during an unofficial intersquad scrimmage on March 6.
The absence of third strikes is a minor footnote when viewed next to a 16.62 ERA and 5.10 WHIP.
But it’s just spring and it’s only over 4 1/3 innings.
And a pitcher’s spring stat line doesn’t indicate much, either, especially when guys are working with a limited arsenal or being coached to focus on a couple key tasks. Eleven of the 14 Twins batters Faria faced Sunday put the first pitch they saw in play, also showing that Minnesota batters may have been instructed to be exceedingly aggressive.
That said, Faria isn’t in prospect-mode anymore. Rather than starting the year at Triple-A Durham and waiting for midseason call-ups, Faria is expected to start immediately in the Rays’ four-man rotation.
There are 18 days left until Opening Day at Tropicana Field March 29 and Faria is going to see a few spring starts before games begin to count. Seeing a couple clean frames over that span would be comforting.
Pretty soon it’s not going to be just spring anymore.
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