SARASOTA, Fla. - It's a shame that cell phone cameras aren't permitted inside the clubhouse, because Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman provided a great photo opportunity for the media before yesterday's workout at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
The two top pitching prospects in the organization, back-to-back fourth overall picks in the First-Year Player Draft, stood at opposite ends of the bumper billiards table, bent at the waist, cue sticks in hand. Opposite personalities, too, which only added to the moment.
The game continued as reporters exited the clubhouse and prepared for the hour-plus drive to Fort Myers. Later, we would find out that Gausman had been named the starter for today's game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Sarasota, with Bundy scheduled to work in relief.
It seems as though they're going to be linked together for a long time.
Gausman is his own tough act to follow after he held the Boston Red Sox to two hits and struck out three in three scoreless innings. Now he's making his first start, and if he brings the same heat and changeup, the Rays will have their hands full.
Bundy could be open to the most scrutiny today. His velocity is down, for whatever reason. He seems to believe it's due to mechanics. Maybe he isn't pushing off with the same force after being bothered by spasms in his groin area.
His fastball kept being clocked at 90 mph against the Red Sox. A scout had him hitting 94 mph once, but Bundy was definitely in the low 90s.
Let's see if today brings any improvement.
You may have noticed that manager Buck Showalter is holding Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez out of games against division opponents. He's got them pitching at the Twin Lakes Park complex, with Chen's next start coming Monday against a collection of Tampa Bay's Single-A players. Gonzalez will take the mound on Friday.
Showalter's got Zach Britton starting against the Red Sox on Friday and Jake Arrieta against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. Should we read anything into it?
Perhaps it just shows that Chen and Gonzalez are definitely in the rotation and therefore being handled in a different manner. Guys like Britton and Arrieta are fighting for the fifth spot.
Jason Hammel pitched in the intrasquad game Tuesday and he'll start against the Phillies Sunday in a split-squad game while Steve Johnson faces the Minnesota Twins in Sarasota. Showalter continues to find innings for all of his starters.
"That's the good thing about Chen and Ham and probably Miguel getting to do most of their pitching over in Twin Lakes," Showalter said. "We'll continue to get to look at some of these guys. So when people talk about X number of guys competing to start, we can give them the starts, especially now when we start playing these teams the last two weeks in the American League East. We're not going to pitch our guys against them, so we'll continue to be able to do that."