Spring Training is Here! What Should You Expect?

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Spring training is officially underway as pitchers and catchers report to camp today (all other position players will report on February 20th). This year, as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Ian to the Port Charlotte facilities, the team will split its spring training activities between Tropicana Field and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. That, however, may be the most significant change for the Rays, as they have placed an emphasis on continuity this year. The team made no major free agent acquisitions, instead focusing on extending key players such as Yandy Diaz, Jeffrey Springs, and Pete Fairbanks.

That said, the Rays have still invited 80 players to camp. Amongst those players, there will be 43 pitchers, 8 catchers, 17 infielders, and 12 outfielders (the full roster can be found on the Major League Baseball site, https://www.mlb.com/rays/roster).

With this renewed focus on continuity, there aren’t many holes to fill on the active roster. A cursory glance at the roster leads me to believe that there will be no competition for spots in the starting rotation and one hole to fill in the bullpen. Similarly, the team seems to be set at the catcher position and will only have one or two open spots for the rest of the position player group. Position flexibility is always important to the Rays, so look for that last spot to go to someone who can play all over the diamond, such as Brujan, Aranda, or Robertson.

Since there won’t be too many position battles, the coaching staff will likely focus on evaluating players who could help this team in specific ways. This help could come from a veteran reliever looking for another shot at the big leagues or another matchup-friendly platoon option. Over the years, the Rays have done a great job of finding overlooked veterans, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again this year.