ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Former USF standout Shane McClanahan will be the Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day starter Friday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Don’t expect this 24-year-old to have any butterflies. He’s already pitched in a World Series and made his big league debut in the 2020 postseason.
“It’s exciting, it’s a big game. I don’t know if it’s the biggest game I have ever pitched in,” McClanahan told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “But, I am definitely excited.”
Last season, McClanahan did not break camp with the big league team. He stayed in Port Charlotte working out and waiting his turn. Twelve months later, he gets the ball in game one.
“The Rays have done a good job of getting me acclimated to the pressures of Major League Baseball over the last two years,” McClanahan said. “I think I am in a good spot because of it.”
McClanahan’s status as the Rays’ young ace was evident when he was named the club’s starter in game one of the American League Division Series against the Boston Red Sox last year.
“It was an obvious choice,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He is very deserving. He’s going to get better, too. What we saw last year, the experiences that he had, way more ups than downs, but the minimal downs he had he seemed to recover from very, very quickly.”
Playing his college ball at South Florida and with family in Cape Coral, McClanahan will have about a dozen family and friends at the game. But this moment will mean the most to his father.
“Probably my dad. I played catch with that guy all growing up,” McClanahan said. “He turns 70 this year so I know this is going to mean a lot to him.”
First pitch for Friday’s game against Baltimore is set for 3:10 p.m.