The Mercury News Weekend

Eflin makes a good first impression


The most expensive free agent in Tampa Bay history made a good first impression with the Rays.

Zach Eflin struck out three of four Minnesota Twins batters on Thursday in his first spring training start, a game played at Tropicana Field. The righthande­r signed a $40 million, threeyear contract during the offseason, the most money the Rays have given to a free agent.

“Felt really good,” Elfin said. “Felt like I was in control. I felt like my offspeed was pretty good today, which is kind of a good foundation to start with.”

Eflin began last season in Philadelph­ia's rotation but his last start was June 25 before being sidelined by right knee soreness. He returned Sept. 14 and made seven appearance­s out of the bullpen with a 1.17 ERA, then pitched in relief in 10 postseason games for the National League champions. He threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings over four World Series games.

His 2021 season was cut short by a torn patellar tendon in his right knee that required surgery. He had surgery on both knees in 2016, the same year he made his big league debut with the Phillies.

Eflin joins a Rays rotation that includes All-Star lefty Shane McClanahan and right-hander Drew Rasmussen. Tyler Glasnow, a 6-8 righty, is expected to miss six to eight weeks with an oblique injury. ROJAS OUT OF WBC, FOCUS ON DODGERS >> Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Miguel Rojas told reporters that he is pulling out of the World Baseball Classic with Venezuela because he wants to focus on his role as the likely starting shortstop for L.A. The 34-year-old is expected to get more playing time following an injury to Gavin Lux, who tore ligaments in a knee this week and will miss the season.

“It's definitely heartbreak­ing that I can't go and participat­e with Venezuela,” Rojas told the Los Angeles Times. “The reason why is a new opportunit­y opened up for me — an opportunit­y to play every day at shortstop.”

Rojas said he'd likely get more at-bats during the spring with the Dodgers then he would in his expected utility role with Venezuela.

ROCKIES WOES >> It was a double dose of less-than-encouragin­g news for the Colorado Rockies on Thursday. Manager Bud Black said Gold Glove-winning second baseman Brendan Rodgers could be looking at surgery after he dislocated his left shoulder while diving for a grounder up the middle in a spring training game Wednesday.

Black also said left-handed reliever Lucas Gilbreath has been dealing with an elbow issue and may be facing Tommy John surgery.

Rodgers was the third overall pick by the Rockies in 2015. He hit .266 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs last season.

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