There is nothing quite like Spring Training. After a long and, especially where I’m from in Massachusetts, brutally cold winter, the mere images of batting practice and bullpen sessions under the warm Florida sun are a reminder that warmer weather is just around the corner. This thought is reinforced once the Grapefruit League games begin.
The Tampa Bay Rays begin their Spring Training schedule today, playing in two split squad games. The first game is against the Pittsburgh Pirates split squad team at 1:05 at Charlotte Sports Park at 1:05pm. Roberto Hernandez is slated to start, with Jeff Niemann, Marquis Fleming, Fernando Rodney, Alex Colome, J.D. Martin and Adam Liberatore also slated to get work in the matchup. The starting lineup is expected to include CF Sam Fuld, SS Yunel Escobar, 2B Kelly Johnson, C Jose Molina, DH Luke Scott, 1B James Loney, RF Wil Myers, 3B Chris Gimenez, LF Rich Thompson.
The second game is against the Boston Red Sox split squad at 1:35pm, at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers. Enny Romero is getting the start in that matchup, and is expected to be followed by Mike Montgomery, Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, Felipe Rivero, Matt Buschmann and Neil Schenk. Against the Sox, the Rays expected starting lineup is RF Ben Zobrist, CF Desmond Jennings, LF Matt Joyce, DH Jack Cust, 2B Ryan Roberts, 3B Sean Rodriguez, 1B Shelley Duncan, C Jose Lobaton and SS Hak-Ju Lee.
Also, Sun Sports announced their 2013 schedule, and the 150 Rays game that they will be televising this season. Also, Sun Sports announced that Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson will be returning in the booth, marking the fifth year the duo has been calling games for the Rays. Todd Kalas is also returning to host the pregame and postgame shows for the Rays home games, while Barry LeBrock will have those duties for away games. Orestes Destrade completes the television side, as he will be appearing and providing feature reports for Rays Live.