The Rays optioned McKay to Triple-A Durham on Thursday, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. McKay was one of seven players optioned from big-league camp Thursday as the Rays reduced their contingent to 28 men, leaving the team with two cuts to make before Opening Day. The 24-year-old lefty remains one of the organization's top pitching prospects, but an uneven MLB debut season in 2019 along with a poor spring prevented him from beating out Yonny Chirinos for the fifth starter's role. McKay should get another trial in the Tampa Bay rotation at some point later in 2020.
McKay started a Grapefruit League loss to the Phillies on Thursday and allowed four earned runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batsman over 1.1 innings. He struck out two. The talented southpaw endured a rough go of it, with the majority of his problems coming in the second inning. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports there were signs things were amiss during a scoreless first, however, when McKay struggled with his control. He then allowed four consecutive hits with one out in the second, including a pair of solo home runs to No. 8 and 9 hitters Josh Harrison and Roman Quinn. Despite the unsightly final line, McKay attempted to focus on the positives. "Body and arm felt good," McKay said. "The results you're obviously frustrated with, (but) a bunch of guys said don't really hang yourself on results. It's all about how your body feels and how you're progressing."
McKay will make his first Grapefruit League start against the Phillies on Thursday, Zachary Silver of MLB.com reports. McKay was slowed by shoulder soreness early in spring, but he was able to make his first Grapefruit League appearance out of the bullpen Friday versus the Twins. The left-hander is vying to secure a back-end rotation spot, and he should get at least three starts to make his case prior to the end of spring training.
McKay (shoulder) fired a scoreless fourth inning in his spring debut in a loss to the Twins on Friday. He struck out one. McKay made his long-awaited debut with success, even ringing up Josh Donaldson for his one punchout. Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports McKay hit 94 mph on the called third strike and reported feeling good overall after the appearance, one in which he threw 10 of 16 pitches for strikes and utilized the changeup he's been working on this spring.
McKay (shoulder) felt good following his bullpen session Tuesday and will pitch Friday against the Twins, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. McKay is ready to move forward with his spring debut after being initially delayed by shoulder stiffness. Whether or not he still has time to be fully built up as a starter by Opening Day remains to be seen, but the Rays are creative enough that they could use him in other ways for the first week or two of the season if necessary.
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