TORONTO — In advance of facing off for the first time against Charlie Montoyo as manager of the Blue Jays, the Rays lavished praise on their former longtime minor-league manager and big-league coach.
“He’s sorely missed,” manager Kevin Cash said, “but it’s exciting to be playing against him.”
Before that, they presented him with a load of gifts.
Those came with a bit of an edge.
When Montoyo arrived to his Rogers Centre office, dozens of previous Rays promotional items were spread over his desk, couch and locker: A Kevin Kiermaier lunch bag, bobbleheads, the DJ Kitty head and slippers, plenty of others.
“Charlie was very passionate about the giveaways at the Trop … he made sure he always had enough,” Cash said. “We wanted to make sure he had all of his Christmas gifts aligned.”
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Montoyo made a show during the media session in his office of saying he had no interest and offered them to reporters.
Cash wasn’t buying.
“I promise you whatever’s left in that office, he’ll take it home,” he said. “That was a gesture to say, ‘I don’t really care,’ but he was hoping — like that Blake Snell bobblehead — that nobody took it, because that’s a really nice gift in his household.”
Montoyo, who said the Rays are his “friends,” promised revenge: “There’s going to be something in their clubhouse (Saturday), I’ll tell you that much. I’ve got to think about it. They drew the first blood.”
First things first
With Austin Meadows’ leadoff homer, the Rays scored in the first inning for a new franchise high seventh straight game, the longest such streak for an AL team since the 2006 Indians. … The Rays have outscored opponents 18-1 in the first innings, and the 18 runs are the most of any team.
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Infielder Joey Wendle (hamstring) had a good day running Friday at the Trop and is tentatively set to being a short rehab or extended spring assignment in Port Charlotte Wednesday or Thursday with the idea of rejoining the Rays for the weekend series vs. Boston. … Saturday is a big day for Tommy John-rehabbing pitchers Jose De Leon, who get to pitch in a game for the first time (since before being hurt in spring training 2018), slated for one inning or 25 pitches in extended spring.
• Outfielder Tommy Pham went into play Friday with a team-record 45-game streak of reaching base, longest in the majors since Texas’ Shin-Soo Choo did 52 last year. And he extended that to 46 with a single in the sixth inning.
• In his first start at Double-A, Brendan McKay dazzled on Wednesday, striking out 11 of 18 batters faced, allowing two hits and one walk over 4 2/3 innings, throwing 71 pitches.
• MLB released photos of caps and socks for upcoming special event days, with old-school logos on the red, white and blue July Fourth weekend caps. For details, see them here.
• It’s narrow parameters, but the Rays are the fifth team in the past 10 years to double their opponents runs through the first 13 games, 58-26. What’s interesting is that the other four all made the playoffs: ’09 Dodgers, ’12 Rangers, ’13 Braves, ’16 Cubs.
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