By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Danny Farquhar spent Friday night celebrating his 30th birthday with some teammates and family.
The Tampa Bay Rays’ reliever went bowling with fellow pitcher Dana Eveland, outfielder Chase Peterson and about 10 family members including wife Lexie, daughter Madison and son Landon.
“I definitely feel older,” Farquhar said of becoming a 30-year-old. “I think more grays popped through (yesterday).”
The bowling festivities had a little twist to it. Farquhar, Eveland and Peterson all had to bowl with their opposite hands.
“We didn’t want to risk injury because those bowling balls are heavy and you could hurt your wrist, so we all bowled opposite handed,” Farquhar said.
According to the right-handed pitcher, he won the second game they played, bowling lefty with a score of 148. Peterson won the first game.
Based on when his birthday falls, Farquhar says he rarely gets to celebrate like they did Friday night because of spring training.
“Most of the time the birthday gets overlooked because it’s usually right before spring training or on the first day of spring training and there’s a lot going on,” he said “This year was kind of cool because spring training started so early, there was a good week (before my birthday).”
Last year was Farquhar’s first season with the Rays. He appeared in 35 games in 2016 with a 3.06 ERA and striking out 46 batters in 35.1 innings of work.
Farquhar was drafted in 2008 by the Toronto Blue Jays and he made his Major League debut on Sept. 13 of 2011, tossing two-thirds of an innings against the Boston Red Sox.
The last time he spent a birthday where he wasn’t in or preparing for an MLB camp was in 2009. Eight years later, he has some advice for that 22-year-old.
“Just continue to enjoy everyday for what it is,” he said.
Over that time he has appeared in 193 games with the Rays, Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. His best season was in 2015 with Seattle, where he had a 2.66 ERA over 71 innings pitched. He struck out 81 batters that season while walking just 22.
Farquhar has now joined Evan Longoria, Xavier Cedeno and Colby Rasmus as the only 30-plus-year-olds on the 40-man roster for the Rays.
PORT CHARLOTTE — Evan Longoria doesn’t believe in superstitions.
Just because he hit .273 with 81 runs, 41 doubles, 36 home runs and 98 RBI in 2016 doesn’t mean he was going to stick to the same offseason routine that brought him those numbers.
In fact, he completely switched things up and even tried something new.
“I took the Jake Arrieta advice, and did a lot of Pilates with my wife,” Longoria said. “I did a lot less hitting than I did last (offseason). … My swing has probably felt as good as it ever have coming into spring.”
Longoria reported to camp with a new beard and a bleached mohawk.
“I started growing it in November, and it just kept growing,” he said. “My wife likes it, so that’s what it’s all about. That’s the answer for everything. Happy wife, happy life.”
As for the hair, he says he will keep it until he gets into a slump.
The 31-year-old made headlines a few weeks ago when he told Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin that he was unhappy with the Rays’ trade which sent second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers.
“We were all a little bit upset by the loss of Logan,” Longoria said Saturday. “I was about as vocal as I’ve ever been on any given topic of move that we’ve made. But with that being said, I think some of the additions we did make were really good.”
It seems as if time has healed the wound somewhat for Longoria.
“The more I think about it, I like where we are,” Longoria said. “I don’t know if I’ll get over losing Logan because we had become real close and he became one of the clubhouse leaders. So when you take that away, it feels like there’s a much bigger void and piece that’s missing, but like I said, we have a pretty good veteran presence here this year.”
Considering how important Longoria is to the team, manager Kevin Cash recognizes they need him on board.
“I talked to him in the offseason,” Cash said. “I followed up with him after the trade about two days later. His comments to me were he’s disappointed and he spoke his peace. But he’s smart enough and intelligent enough to know the impact he has to come in and turn the page and come in with a positive outlook.”
Erasmo Ramirez was sidelined for a few days with a hamstring injury, but appeared to be fine Saturday morning during his return in a bullpen session.
“He looked good,” Cash said. “That’s kind of what we anticipated. We knew it was very, very minor what he did. I’m actually excited he got more rest, extra days.”
In addition to Ramirez, four other Rays threw bullpen sessions on a short day at camp. Chris Archer, Brad Boxberger, Alex Colome and Matt Andriese all threw about 25 pitches.
Shawn Tolleson was supposed to be in that group of pitchers throwing a bullpen session on Saturday, but according to Cash, he felt something in his back after the last session. They gave him some rest to avoid a flare up, said Cash.
PLENTY OF TIME TO PREPARE
Earlier this week, the New York Yankees announced Masahiro Tanaka as their opening-day starter. The Rays will be hosting the Yankees on April 2 to begin the season.
Pitchers and catchers have been at camp since Tuesday, position players had to report by Friday, but Sunday will be the first full-squad workouts for the Rays. The workouts will feature live batting practice, with Rays pitchers throwing to batters.