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Blake Snell returns to Tropicana Field for first time as a visiting player with Giants

 The Associated Press  |    Apr 12th, 2024 6:49pm EDT

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Blake Snell returned to Tropicana Field for the first time as a visiting player and took notice of the familiar surroundings, especially the place that stood out most.

“The barber shop,” the San Francisco Giants pitcher said with a smile Friday. “A lot of new additions. It’s just cool to see how the years have gone and what’s new. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

The 31-year-old left-hander signed with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, made it to the major leagues in 2016 and was traded to San Diego after the 2020 season. The two-time Cy Young Award winner became a free agent last fall and signed a $62 million, two-year contract with the Giants, a deal that allows him to opt out after this season.

“A lot of the same coaches are here, which is good,” Snell said. “Some minor league coaches that I had are in the big leagues, so that’s amazing to see. But looking back, I’m really thankful for those years and how much energy all those coaches put into me to help me do it. Yeah, just very thankful.”

Snell won his first Cy Young with the Rays in 2018, when he went 21-5, and made a pair of 2020 World Series starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Snell’s time with Tampa Bay ended two months after he was was removed with a 1-0 lead in Game 6 and the Dodgers rallied for a title-winning 3-1 victory.

He made his Giants debut Monday and allowed three runs over three innings in an 8-1 loss to Washington and is scheduled to start against the Rays on Sunday.

“I was raised through the system,” Snell said. “So when I got here, there was so much love and care for me and attention to me that made this place feel like home. So I’m excited to see what it feels like Sunday.”

Snell said a highlight of Sunday’s game is a chance to pitch in front of Rays manager Kevin Cash and pitching coach Kyle Snyder, who both played pivotal roles in his development.

“It’s good to see him, give him a handshake and a hug,” Cash said. “When you develop a guy there’s a lot of relationships created with that and I certainly value mine with him. I know he’s really close with Kyle, he’s close with some of these teammates here. It’ll be exciting to see him get out there.”

Snell has faced the Rays once, allowing two hits and striking 12 over six shutout innings in San Diego last June 17.

“I hope the pitch limit that he has is lower than maybe what he wants because we know how good of a pitcher he is,” Cash said.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB