ST. PETERSBURG – Throughout 2021, Luis Patiño’s first season at the Rays, Colombian law has carried a chain with a photo of a person who was integral in his family life and in his sports training: His maternal grandmother, Neila Jiménez de Patiño, who passed away from COVID-19 in January.
“It’s my lucky charm,” said Patino, who is part of the Tampa Bay corps in their American League Division Series against the Red Sox. “It’s like for me, my amulet and keep it in mind.”
Growing up in Barranquilla, Patiño and her sister Silvia stayed with their grandparents for long periods while their parents, Carlos and Zulma, taught in different parts of Colombia in their roles as university professors. In those days, Neila had to take young Luis to his practices and games in children’s baseball leagues in Barranquilla.
“He never got to see me in person in the big leagues,” Patiño said. “I said that this year was going to be in honor of her and so far, I have been able to carry her up high.”
NEW HORIZONS IN TAMPA BAY
After making his major league debut in 2020 with the Padres, the team that signed him as an amateur in 2016, Patiño was part of the change that sent left-hander Blake Snell from Tampa Bay to San Diego. Although he spent part of 2021 at Triple-A Durham, making seven starts to fine-tune, he returned to the Rays’ big team to stay in July. Averaging 95.7 miles per hour on his four-seam fastball (84th percentile in the majors), Patiño won three of his last four decisions, with a 4.43 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 20 walks in his last 44.3 innings.
Now in the postseason, that mighty fastball could be a good weapon for an inning or two.
“Sure, I think that’s my best pitching, but you have to ‘mix’ (mix) the pitches, in order to have a better success,” explained the 21-year-old right-hander.
Just beginning what is expected to be a solid career in the majors, Patiño is happy to be part of a progressive organization like Tampa Bay’s.
“It has been a year of blessings, with many opportunities that the team has given me,” he said. “They have given me that confidence and that privilege of being here on the team and in the rotation. Now in a role not so defined as a starter, but participating in the playoffs and I hope to do a good job. “