PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Rays pitcher Pete Fairbanks is ready to soar to new heights
The defending American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays reported to Spring Training on February 18. As in the past, the pitchers and catchers are the first groups to begin workouts.
Here’s the thing about the Rays pitching staff: almost without exception, these guys are tall. Exceptionally tall.
Tyler Glasnow is 6’ 8". Pete Fairbanks is 6’ 6". Michael Wacha: 6’6". Rich Hill and Ryan Yarbrough are 6’ 5".
This phenomenon led Hill to dub the Rays staff as "The Land of the Redwoods."
And that’s the other characteristic common among Rays pitchers: they are smart.
Take Pete Fairbanks. He came to the Ray via trade in 2019 and was one of the pleasant surprises on last year’s World Series team.
He was asked about the annual departure of some of the Rays top-flight talent as the team fights to maintain fiscal viability. Pete would have none of it.
"I am here to throw the ball," Fairbanks diplomatically responded. "I am not here to make due of what our personnel is supposed to do."
Fairbanks is thoughtful and soft-spoken. But his pitches are frighteningly hard-thrown; 100 miles an hour-fast. Thrown from that Redwood height of 6’ 6", the batter must feel as if he’s trying to hit an anvil thrown down from the top of a building.
Perhaps when you’re that tall, that fast, and that smart, you can be humble and simply allow your work to do the talking for you.
Fairbanks won six games in last year’s 60 game season. Only three other pitchers in the American League won more. He struck out 39 batters in fewer than 27 innings, working in a variety of roles.
That’s striking out roughly one and a half-batters per inning of work. And that half-batter? A very challenging strike zone.
Fairbanks was even tougher in the postseason, where he helped lock down the end of games for the Rays, with three saves in nine games and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Through it all, Pete Fairbanks keeps his head down and presses forward. But he’s 6’6". Even with his head down he still stands out as a pitcher and a thinker.
"That’s what it comes down to," Fairbanks observed. "I’m going to go out and do what I’m supposed to, and hopefully everybody else will go out and do what they’re supposed to do and we’ll win some ball games."
The Rays full squad will begin workouts on Tuesday, February 23. That will be the first opportunity for fans to watch Spring Training in Port Charlotte. Visit MLB.com for details on times and restrictions.