Let’s play the Rays name game
ST. PETERSBURG — When Tyler Glasnow first signed a professional contract with the Pirates as a 17-year-old right out of high school in 2011, he was pretty much all arms and legs and awkward maneuvers.
“I was like 6-6, 6-7, and I weighed like 160 pounds or something,” he said “So when I got there, they were like, ‘You look like a baby giraffe or a mini horse,’ and it just stuck.
“I kind of liked it. Obviously they were joking around, but it’s always good to laugh at yourself every now and again. I grew up and I gained like 60 pounds, and now I just think it’s funny. People still call me that with Pittsburgh, so some good times.”
Glasnow liked it enough not to just share the story, but to wear it on his back, choosing Mini Horse as the nickname that will appear on his jersey Friday-Sunday for the second players weekend, in which showcasing personalities is actually encouraged.
“I tell people ‘Mini Horse,’ and they look at me like what could that mean, what are you getting at,” Glasnow said. “So then I have to explain it.”
Players also will wear specially designed jerseys, caps and socks, and can use different colored gloves, cleats, wristbands, catcher’s gear, compression sleeves and batting gloves.
With Mini Horse our top choice, here’s the rest of our top 10 of Rays nicknames:
2. Zilla, LHP Blake Snell: This is a play off Snell’s social media and gaming handle, Snellzilla4, though he admits it wasn’t an original idea. “That was my older brother’s gamer tag when we were young, and I just took it from him,” Snell explained. “I put it as my Instagram name and people loved it, so it just kind of started that way.” With Snell’s success it has being increasingly higher profile, especially in reference to the Japanese Godzilla movie monster.
3. Mendle, INF Joey Wendle: Credit MLB Network for this one, inadvertently. After the relatively unheralded, and apparently somewhat unknown, Wendle earned a spot on the opening day roster, the TV gang wasn’t shooting straight. “They had the projected lineup for the Rays and I was on there, but the last name was Mendle,” he said. “I believe they said Mendle, and it was on the screen as Mendle. Some people around (the clubhouse) caught wind of that and seemed to like it, so I’ve been Mendle ever since.”
4. El Final, OF Carlos Gomez: Leave it to Gomez to go for something dramatic. Joking he’s kind of a big deal in his Dominican Republic hometown of Santiago, Gomez said basically “it’s like when you are the man … like that’s it. It’s over. There’s nothing more than that.” Thus, he said, “I think people are going to enjoy it, and it’s going to be funny.”
5. Duffman, 3B Matt Duffy: Though the obvious connection is to the character on The Simpsons cartoon, Duffy says proper credit goes back to a sports reporter covering his high school games in Southern California. “He always called me DUFF-man really emphatically and it just kind of carried over,” Duffy explained.
6. M Effect, OF Mallex Smith: A shortened version of the increasingly popular phase, the Mallex effect, that we use to address all the ways Smith can impact a game, especially with his speed, and he has taken to it. “I like it,” he said. “I love it actually. I feel like I do have a real effect on the game, especially with everybody on my team, so I think it’s very fitting for me.”
7. El Pocho, LHP Jose Alvarado: Growing up in Venezuela, Alvarado explained via team interpreter Manny Navarro that he didn’t eat particularly healthy, so his mom would make him drinks using topocho, a form of banana. She started called him Pocho, and friends and winter-league teammates picked up on it and still use it. (Of note, Alvarado last year used “La Flecha,” which means the arrow but gave it up in deference to veteran reliever Fernando Rodney, the ex-Ray known for shooting an imaginary arrow to celebrate success.)
8. Big Fella, 1B/DH C.J. Cron: At 6-4, 235, it’s kind of obvious, though there is some debate, depending on whom you ask, whether that’s what the Rays started calling Cron after the trade from the Angels or that’s what he called himself.
9. El Mechon, RHP Sergio Romo: It’s taken from the title of that oh-so-catchy song Romo uses as his warmup music, and, he said, roughly translates — appropriately — to “the party starter.”
10. Phamastic, OF Tommy Pham: This headline writers’ favorite was first bestowed by a fan when Pham was playing at Triple-A Memphis a few years ago, and he understandably liked it. “Just trying to keep it going,” he said.
Among some others of note, earned, given or chosen:
SS Willy Adames, The Kid; RHP Diego Castillo, Samana; RHP Yonny Chirinos, Yonito; CF Kevin Kiermaier, Outlaw;
LHP Vidal Nuno, Sleepy; C Michael Perez, Mykii; RHP Chaz Roe, Ranch; LHP Ryan Yarbrough, Yarbitron.