The MLB schedule will look a lot different for fans who follow the sport, with the league switching to a format similar to the NBA and NHL, where teams will play everyone, meaning the Rays will have all 29 teams on their schedule.
With the new formatted schedule, it has created what will be a very intriguing season for the Rays, with some must-watch series for Rays fans that people will be intrigued by in 2023.
1. vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (May 26th-28th)
This, to me, is the most intriguing matchup on paper for the Rays at home, with the Dodgers visiting the Rays in what will be the first meeting between the two clubs since their 2020 World Series clash.
In that 2020 season, neither the Rays nor Dodgers hosted World Series games at their respective stadiums, an unfortunate set of circumstances for the Rays given the opportunity for the team to be able to bring championship games back to the Bay area.
This will be the first time since 2019 that the Dodgers have played in St. Pete, and this series should not only draw big crowds in person with the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Freddie Freeman, but it should also draw good TV ratings as well, with this being a great early-season test for the Rays in 2023.
2. vs. Detroit Tigers (March 30th, April 1st-2nd)
With it being the 25th anniversary of the Rays, this series had to be on this list not only for the special feeling it gets for being Opening Day for the Rays, but for the historical significance of this game.
This series is historically significant because this was the first team that the Tampa Bay Rays (at the time, the Devil Rays) played as an expansion team in 1998.
The Tigers are heading into 2023 with a lot of questions and many interesting storylines, especially with future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera making his final trip to the Trop for Opening Weekend and the possible return of former Rays outfielder Austin Meadows.
3. vs. Philadelphia Phillies (July 4th-6th)
If you are wondering why the Phillies are on both the regular season and spring training must-watch lists, it's not just because they are the defending National League champs.
They are on the list for the regular season because of the opportunity for the Rays to play the Phillies on the 4th of July.
It will be the first time in nearly 4 years that the Rays have hosted a game at home on the 4th of July, the last coming in 2019 versus the Yankees. This matchup for 2023 should draw attention and will be a great set for both clubs, even if it's interleague play.
4. vs. Kansas City Royals (June 22nd-25th)
The return of former Rays coaches Paul Hoover, who was the Rays' field coordinator for four years and is now the bench coach, and Matt Quatraro, who was the Rays' bench coach and is now the Royals' manager, will make a four-game series at the Trop interesting.
Both Quatraro and Hoover should receive some recognition during this series, as should any returning coaches or players, and I'd imagine it will be an emotional first night of the series for both men.
It also will be an interesting contest between both clubs as Quatraro is looking to turn things around for the Royals, who haven't made the playoffs since their World Series run in 2015, creating some intrigue as to where this team will be at by the time these two clubs meet.
5. @ Arizona Diamondbacks (June 27th-29th)
This series truly has no major implications in terms of intraleague records; this game will be meaningful for one reason for Rays fans, and that is Evan Longoria.
Longoria was rumored to possibly make his triumphant return to the Bay area after being traded to the West Coast Bay area in San Francisco; however, Longo decided to join the D-Backs, resulting in him staying in the NL West.
While Longoria has yet to return to the Trop since being traded from the Rays, he has played his former team before in 2018, but with only a few years left in his career, this game against Longo and the D-Backs will be a nice reunion of sorts for the Rays faithful in the Valley.