Loading the equipment trucks and making the drive to Port Charlotte is a big day for the Tampa Bay Rays, as it signifies that spring training is just around the corner.
Monday was a busy day at Tropicana Field as two 26-foot trucks were loaded by the Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse staff carrying everything from “A” to “Z” associated with the Rays to make their way down to Port Charlotte in preparation for Feb. 14 when the Rays open the clubhouse doors at Charlotte Sports Park.
Packing for spring training is no easy task, as Jose Fernandez, the Rays clubhouse manager along with his staff began preparing for this day back on January 6. They started coordinating with the training staff, coaches and the players to see what they needed to be moved.
It is not just uniforms, baseballs and bats but also trainers’ supplies, crates of sports drinks, which Fernandez estimates to be close to 100 boxes, plus car seats for the players that have little children. Oh, did I forget to mention the 30 cases of bubble gum?
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“You’re always excited for this day,” said Fernandez. “There’s a lot of excitement about the start of the season, and you know you’ll see the players soon.”
The drive from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to Charlotte Sports Park is about 75 minutes, so once the staff arrives, they’ll need a couple of hours to unload everything. Over the next two days, they will unpack all the boxes, put everything where it belongs, and make sure that they have not forgotten anything.
Once that is all completed, they will have a bit of breathing room before pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14 – however, they will still be hard at work getting the clubhouse ready for the first full squad workout on Feb. 19.
“Anytime you do something every year, it gets easier and easier,” Fernandez said. “But it’s stressful. You don’t want to forget something. You worry about a player showing up and you didn’t pack his bats.”
For the Rays, this is their 20th spring training and ninth in Port Charlotte and for Kevin Cash his third. Come Tuesday, Feb. 14, Cash and his staff will welcome 32 pitchers and catchers for their first workout, which will begin at 10:30 a.m.
The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Sunday, Feb 19 when camp will expand to 59 players, which includes 19 non-roster invites.
In other Ray’s news on Monday, the Rays officially announced the signing of Logan Morrison to a one-year, $2.5 million base salary deal. Per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times there is a $250,000 increase if he spends less than 60 days on the DL “due to specific injury” and up to $1 million in incentives based on plate appearances. Morrison gets $250,000 for making 400, 450, 500 and 550.
Still no word on the corresponding move that the Rays will need to make on the 40-man roster with Morrison in the fold.
What is in a Number?
Some players are superstitious, others want a number because it is significant in some way to them, such as it being their favorite players number growing up, or a birthday. For others, it could signify the first number they had going back to their little league days.
For members of the Tampa Bay Rays and more or less throughout baseball, the higher the number given during spring training usually means you are a minor league invited to spring training.
With all the new players, you will certainly need a roster to know who the players are and even for some that have decided to change their number. Therefore, without any further ado, it is new Ray’s number time.
Mallex Smith: No. 0 – He becomes the first player in Rays franchise history to wear this number. Wilson Ramos: No. 40 – others that have worn this number: Kevin Jepsen, J.P. Arencibia, Troy Percival, Wade Davis. This is also the number that Ramos wore with the Washington Nationals.
Shawn Tolleson: No. 38 – others wearing this number: Taylor Motter, Andy Sonnanstine. Tolleson returns to the number he wore during his Dodgers days.
Colby Rasmus: No. 28 – others wearing this number: Steve Pearce, John Jaso, Jose Molina, Danys Baez. Rasmus has worn this number throughout his career.
Jose De Leon: No. 87 – He becomes the first player in Rays franchise history to wear this number and De Leon wears this number in which he made his MLB debut last year with the Dodgers.
Luke Maile switching from 46 to 21 – others wearing number 21: Bobby Wilson, James Loney, Ty Wigginton, Bubba Trammell
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7 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers Report to Spring Training