Rays’ Randy Arozarena remains positive and hopeful of a turnaround

ST. PETERSBURG — After declining several interview requests over two-plus weeks, Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena decided that he wanted to talk to reporters following Tuesday night’s eventful game in Milwaukee.

Arozarena primarily wanted to spread a message of peace, to make clear that the benches-clearing brawl that took place that night was distasteful and unnecessary, specifically due to the risk of injury.

“I think it’s just bad for the game overall,” he said via Rays communications director Elvis Martinez. “I’m not happy about how it went down.”

But Arozarena also was willing to talk about his extensive struggles and brutal start to this season, with a .139 average and .455 OPS (220 on-base percentage, .235 slugging) that all rank among the majors’ worst for fulltime players.

And how tough it has been on him.

“I know things haven’t worked out the way I expected, the way I’ve played (compared to) the way I played last year,” Arozarena said.

“I feel a little down, because I’m not supporting my teammates offensively. I’m not carrying the load that I believe I can every single day.”

But Arozarena — who averaged .264 with a .792 OPS over the last three seasons and reached the 20-homer, 20-steal mark each time — said he remains confident he can return to form.

“I’m going to keep working; I’m positive, in a good mindset,” he said. “And hopefully everything goes back to what last year was and (I) keep playing the baseball I know how to play.”

Manager Kevin Cash, who has said several times he believes Arozarena’s issue is a matter of timing with his swing, appreciated the 2023 All-Star’s perspective.

“I agree with him, and I do believe he’s going to fight his way through it,” Cash said. “I know it’s really tough to remain positive throughout a rough month or rough stretch that he’s going through.

“Sometimes it takes a couple of hard hits, maybe sometimes a couple of ground balls that find their way to the outfield to get that confidence and get that momentum and get your mechanics feeling the way you want. And then we can see, when Randy gets going he can get as hot as anybody in baseball.”

There has been some chatter on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, about fans giving Arozarena a standing ovation Friday as a show of support.

Meet the Mets, greet the Mets

The Mets, who held spring training in St. Petersburg from their 1962 inception through 1987, are in town this weekend with several familiar faces.

One is Pete Alonso, the Tampa native whose 200 home runs since 2019 are most in the majors. In his previous Tropicana Field trip in 2021, Alonso went 1-for-11 with a homer.

Another is Joey Wendle, the former Rays All-Star infielder. “Joey Wendle makes everybody smile,” Cash said. “He was a great teammate, a great player for us. It’ll be a lot of fun to have that interaction and conversations with him.”

Rays right-hander Aaron Civale was teammates in Cleveland with star shortstop Francisco Lindor. Since he is starting Friday’s game, Civale will save his hellos for Saturday.

“Lindor is an awesome competitor, awesome clubhouse guy,” Civale said. “I had a good relationship with him. Being a young guy coming up, he was very welcoming, a super, sound presence behind me when I was out there pitching. Just an all-around great player.”


The Rays will be without centerfielder Jose Siri again Friday, as he serves the second of his two-game suspension for his role in Tuesday’s benches-clearing incident in Milwaukee. ... Outfielder Josh Lowe, whose return from an oblique strain last weekend was delayed due to hamstring tightness, rejoined Triple-A Durham Thursday for more rehab games. He played rightfield and batted second, going 0-for-5. … Taj Bradley, who had a dominant first rehab start Sunday after recovering from a spring pectoral strain, pitches again for the Bulls Friday. Another strong outing could lead to conversations about a return. Shane Baz (oblique strain) will make his first rehab start on Saturday. … The Rays, after a Monday unveiling and Thursday night celebration event at the St. Pete Pier, will debut their “Grit x Glow” City Connect uniforms Friday and wear them all weekend. … Top prospect Junior Caminero, who has been on a tear at Durham, 7-for-his-last-11 with four homers, was not in Thursday’s lineup, but that was not related to an imminent call-up.

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