ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Blake Snell isn’t sorry for saying in May it “just wasn’t worth” playing this season if he had to take a pay cut beyond a pro-rated salary based on the number of games in this coronavirus-delayed season.
Or that in playing he was risking his life, because he could “get the ‘rona” and sustain long-term damage to his health.
Or that he was giving serious consideration to sitting out the season entirely.
But, the Tampa Bay Rays pitcher and Shorewood High School alum said there was part of his now-infamous rant, delivered on the Twitch video game streaming channel, that he did somewhat regret.
Specifically, the part that made for national soundbites, headlines and commentary framing him as a greedy, entitled and tone-deaf athlete: “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, OK? And that’s just the way it is for me.”
After taking the field for his shift during the Rays’ first workout of their second “spring” training Friday, Snell, 27, said in a media Zoom call that he was somewhat sorry.
“The only thing about it that I didn’t like with what I said was just, ‘I’ve gotta get mine.’ That was pretty bad,” he said. “Everything I said, though, past that was pretty correct. But just how I started it, I could see how it could anger people, so I’d apologize for that. But everything after that was pretty spot-on with what we’re doing right now.”
Rather than make $7 million as planned in the second season of the five-year, $50 million deal he signed last spring, Snell will receive $2,592,592, assuming the 60-game season is played.
At the time of his comments, MLB players were pitching an 82-game season and owners were seeking a further reduction in play, potentially based on a new revenue-sharing plan. Snell estimated the plan would cut his salary to around $1,750,000, and thus “ain’t making (expletive).”
And though “the ‘rona” remains a threat to all involved trying to get through three weeks of camp before starting play on July 24, Snell said the protocols that the players association and Major League Baseball agreed to put in place made the decision to join the team relatively easy.
“I would say it wasn’t tough when it came down to what the PA agreed on,” he said. “I like to follow through with what I say. So for that to be the case, definitely happy about that. Just with all the precautions MLB is taking, it makes it pretty easy to play. Everyone here is just super on their toes about it. So I feel very comfortable about it with everything MLB is doing.”
Snell said he is doing his part to stay safe.
“I feel comfortable with what I do when I’m off the field to make sure when I come here I’m not risking it for anyone that has families and stuff that are around,” he said.
Snell had an eventful past few months, as he also showed off his video-game prowess in winning the MLB The Show players tournament, launched a snellzilla.com website that sells branded hoodies and T-shirts as part of a concerted effort to increase his online presence, and unexpectedly changed agents, signing with high-profile and hard-lined Scott Boras.
There’s also the matter of baseball, as Snell is coming off a disappointing 2019 follow-up to his spectacular 2018 American League Cy Young season.
He missed 10 days last April due to a toe fractured in what he said was a freak accident in his home bathroom and was out nearly two months after late-July surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow. He returned to make three September starts and three solid playoff appearances.
Snell raised concern again in spring training when he felt discomfort in the elbow, which he initially likened to another bone chip, and received a cortisone shot. He reacted well and was projected to miss only the opening week of the original season, so the chance to rest and build up slowly during the shutdown — much of which he spent at his Seattle-area home — has been beneficial.
Plus, the planned limits on his workload for this season — given that he threw only 112 innings last year — are no longer as relevant in the abbreviated season, with a specific program expected soon from pitching coach Kyle Snyder.
“I feel really good right now,” Snell said after throwing a 20-pitch bullpen session. “I feel very, very prepared for this season. … It’s always different every year when I start pitching. Sometimes, I feel very good, sometimes I don’t mentally. It all depends. Where I’m at right now, I feel very comfortable, very confident, and I’m excited to see how I do when we get into real games.”