Spring Training baseball is right around the corner, and the season is shaping up to be hotter than ever for the Rays.
With a split season in Tampa and Orlando, new rules, and some unknowns for the team, there is some excitement and intrigue heading into the spring, and now the Rays are creating some game intrigue with the release of the starters for the team's upcoming spring training games.
The team will begin the weekend with three of their young pitching prospects and will then transition to their more traditional slate from Tuesday through Friday.
Cooper Criswell will start the Grapefruit League opener for the Rays on Saturday versus Minnesota, following a year in which he smelt the big leagues for the second time in his career in Tampa.
The team will then see Taj Bradley, the top pitching prospect in the system, on Sunday versus Boston, with Elvin Rodriguez grabbing the final starter spot for the prospects slate on Monday in Sarasota when the Rays play their other divisional foe, the Baltimore Orioles.
The return to Orlando will also see the return of the regulars as Jeffrey Springs will be the starter against the Yankees in the only game set to be played at Disney's complex, before we will see McClanahan on the 1st of March versus the Braves, Rasmussen versus the Blue Jays in Dunedin on the 3rd, and Eflin on the 2nd in the team's second game versus the Twins in what will be the team's St. Petersburg home opener.
It is an intriguing set up for the Rays coaching staff heading into these weeks of games in terms of the makeup for the starting roles, but with the first lengthy spring for players since 2021, this is going to be an acclimation period for both minor leaguers and big leaguers here at camp, and it may be a sign as to what the lineups may look like for the first three games of the spring, with a heavy minor league presence for the first three in the south.