Rays Open 6th Spring in Charlotte County

By Amanda Borges
Assistant Digital Editor

This Spring Will Mark the 100th Anniversary of the First Grapefruit League Game in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their 17th spring training and sixth in Charlotte County on Saturday, February 15 when Manager Joe Maddon and his staff welcome 40 pitchers and catchers to Charlotte Sports Park. The players will take the field at 10 a.m. All subsequent workouts will start at 9:30 a.m., except for the 10 a.m. first full-squad workout on Thursday, February 20, when the camp expands to 64 players, including 24 non-roster invites. For all spring training workouts, admission and parking are free.

All nine players who started defensively for the Rays in their final game of the 2013 postseason are back in camp this season. That’s the first time that has been the case since spring training 2002. That includes all four of the infield starters from Opening Day 2013: 1B James Loney, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Yunel Escobar and 3B Evan Longoria. All four were finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at their positions. On only two other occasions has the Rays Opening Day starting infield from one season been in training camp the next: 1998-99 and 2008-09.

This spring’s 40-man roster has 21 players that have been acquired via trade by Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. It also is the only major league roster with three Rookie of the Year award winners: Evan Longoria (2008), Jeremy Hellickson (2011) and Wil Myers (2013).

It was 100 years ago—March 26, 1914—that the first game between two major league teams took place in the Tampa Bay area. The Chicago Cubs, in their second season of training in Tampa, hosted the St. Louis Browns at Plant Field on the grounds of the grand Tampa Bay Hotel and now the site of the University of Tampa. The Browns and their manager, Branch Rickey, were enjoying their first year of training in St. Petersburg having been wooed there by future mayor Al Lang. The Cubs edged the Browns, 3-2, in that first game despite making six errors. The Cubs were fueled by a first-inning, two-run home run by Cy Williams while Elmer Koestner and Zip Zabel shut out the Browns through eight innings. The two teams played again the next day at Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg as the Cubs made the trip across Tampa Bay by steamboat. Chicago won again by the same score as James Leslie (Hippo) Vaughn was the winning pitcher in front of 4,000 fans.

New Faces on the 40-man Roster
Signed as Free Agents (1): RHP Grant Balfour
Acquired in Trades (4): RHP Heath Bell, RHP Brad Boxberger, INF Logan Forsythe, C Ryan Hanigan

Key Losses
Free Agents (6): OF Sam Fuld, RHP Roberto Hernandez, INF/OF Kelly Johnson, RHP Fernando Rodney, OF Luke Scott, RHP Jamey Wright
Trades (1): LHP Alex Torres

IMPORTANT DATES
Friday, February 14, Noon—Pre-spring training press conference at Charlotte Sports Park with Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. Lunch will be provided by the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau following the press conference.

• Saturday, February 15, 10 a.m.—First workout, pitchers and catchers, following physical examinations.

• Thursday, February 20, 10 a.m.—First workout, full squad, following physical examinations.

• Saturday, February 22, 11 a.m.—2014 Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field. All Rays players and coaches are expected to attend.

• Wednesday, February 26, 7:30 a.m.—Photo Day for Media Only–All players and coaches will be available for head-and-shoulders photos. Media planning to attend should notify the Rays Communications dept.

• Thursday, February 27, 12:30 p.m.—Rays Charity Golf Tournament to benefit Rays Baseball Foundation at Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Bradenton

• Friday, February 28, 1:05 p.m.—Grapefruit League opener vs. Baltimore Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park.

• Sunday, March 16 (pregame)—For the third consecutive year, the Rays will shave their heads in support of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s “Cut for a Cure” program. This year, the Rays will shave their heads prior to their 1:05 p.m. game with the Red Sox.

• Monday, March 31, 4:10 p.m.—Regular season opener vs. Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.

SOURCE: Tampa Bay Rays Media

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