Shane McClanahan Will Work In Minor League Rotation
No one doubts that 23-year-old Shane McClanahan could have helped the Rays out of the bullpen at the start of this season.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound lefthander fired 100 mph fastballs and snapped off wicked breaking balls during spring training.
But the Rays have the big picture—and bigger plans—in mind for the 2018 first-rounder from South Florida.
Specifically, the Rays want to use McClanahan as a starter, which is why he was optioned to the minor leagues with two weeks left in spring training.
“He’s got a chance to be really special,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
There's also a health element to the Rays' decision. McClanahan had Tommy John surgery in college. He worked at three levels in 2019, then after spending most of last summer at the alternate training site, and missing two weeks with an injury, he made his major league debut in the postseason.
When he pitched against the Yankees in the American League Division Series—as a reliever—McClanahan became the first pitcher in major league history to make his debut in the postseason.
All of which led the Rays to want to be cautious with him this spring, limiting him to three one-inning outings, where he showed off an improved slider.
Might the Rays consider using McClanahan as a multi-inning reliever like the Brewers do with Josh Hader?
"In fairness to Mac, we think we’ve kind of put him through quite a bit with bringing him on to the postseason roster," Cash said. "I’m very confident we feel really good about building him up and let him go on that path (as a starter).”
The Rays took a similar tact with Luis Patiño and Josh Fleming, sending them to the minors as starters rather than giving them a role in the bullpen.
McClanahan said it was made “very clear’’ to him what his role will be.
“I'm just going to trust them and they’re going to do what’s right for me, whether that’s taking it slow or whatever, I’ve got to do what they tell me to do," he said.
— Shortstop Greg Jones, a 2019 first-round pick out of UNC Wilmington who impressed during his first big league camp, will miss at least the first few weeks of the minor league season after sustaining a severe left quad strain in a March 27 exhibition.
— Righthander Brent Honeywell made it back to the mound for his first game against another team since September 2017, working the first inning of the March 22 exhibition against the Red Sox. Honeywell had Tommy John surgery in spring 2018 and has had three subsequent procedures since.