(St. Petersburg, FL) The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their 18th spring training and seventh in Charlotte County on Monday, February 23 when first-year Manager Kevin Cash and his staff welcome 38 pitchers and catchers to Charlotte Sports Park. The players will take the field at 9:30 a.m. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for February 28 when the camp expands to 62 players, including 22 non-roster invites. For all spring training workouts, admission and parking are free.
There will be many new faces. In his first 92 days as President of Baseball Operations, Matt Silverman engineered seven trades involving a total of 30 players; added two major league free agents; signed all eight arbitration eligible players prior to the exchange deadline; and hired a rookie major league manager and two major league coaches.
Eleven players on the 40-man roster were not in the organization when the Rays opened spring training camp last year on February 15, and eight have joined the organization since the end of the 2014 regular season. Thirty-two of the 40 players on the current roster made their Rays debut in 2012 or later.
The Rays will begin their defense of the Grapefruit League crown on Thursday, March 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park. In 2014, the Rays had Major League Baseball’s best spring training record (16-7-4), and their Grapefruit League title was their third in the last seven seasons, following 2008 and 2010. Since 2008, the Rays have the majors’ fourth-best record in the regular season and the fourth best record in spring training play. Since becoming the Rays in 2008, the team has recorded at least 15 wins in six out of seven spring trainings. They had never achieved this in 10 springs as the Devil Rays.
On Friday, March 6 prior to the Rays vs. Minnesota Twins game at Charlotte Sports Park, the Rays will continue their annual tradition of shaving their heads as part of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s “Cut for a Cure.” For the fourth consecutive year, Rays coaches, players and front office staff will shave their heads to pay tribute to children fighting cancer. To show support for a player or participant, the public is encouraged to text “PCF” to 20222 to make a $10 donation or visit pcfcutforacure.org. Fans will be able to shave their heads with the Rays that day and receive a “Rays Cut for a Cure” T-shirt for a $100 donation. That game will also be the 500th spring training game in club history.
NEW FACES ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER (8)
Signed as Free Agents (2): INF Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Ernesto Frieri
Acquired in Trades (6): RHP Jose Dominguez, C/DH John Jaso, RHP Kevin Jepsen, C Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith, OF Steven Souza Jr.
KEY LOSSES (10)
Released (1): C Jose Molina
Traded (9): SS Yunel Escobar, C Ryan Hanigan, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, OF Matt Joyce, OF Wil Myers, RHP Joel Peralta, LHP Cesar Ramos, INF/OF Sean Rodriguez, INF/OF Ben Zobrist
Friday, February 20, Noon—Pre-spring training press conference at Charlotte Sports Park with Rays Manager Kevin Cash and President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman. Lunch will be provided by the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau following the press conference.
Saturday, February 21, 11 a.m.—2015 Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field. Most Rays players and coaches are expected to attend.
Monday, February 23, 9:30 a.m.—First workout, pitchers and catchers.
Friday, February 27, 8 a.m.—Photo Day for Media Only. All players and coaches will be available for head-and-shoulders photos. Media planning to attend should notify the Rays Communications dept.
Saturday, February 28, 9:30 a.m.—First workout, full squad and Spring Training Fan Day.
Wednesday, March 4, 12:30 p.m.—Rays Charity Golf Tournament to benefit Rays Baseball Foundation at Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Bradenton (15150 70th Terrace E.). All Rays players and coaches are expected to attend.
Thursday, March 5, 1:05 p.m.—Military Appreciation Day at Rays Grapefruit League opener vs. Baltimore Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park.
Friday, March 6 (pregame)—For the fourth consecutive year, the Rays will shave their heads in support of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s “Cut for a Cure” program.
DID YOU KNOW? Last March, readers of USA Today voted Charlotte Sports Park their favorite spring training destination. Those visitors accounted for an economic impact value of nearly $21 million for Charlotte County in 2014, according to data supplied by the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau. The Rays-Red Sox game last March 19 drew 7,852 fans, the largest crowd in the 22- year history of spring training baseball in Charlotte County.
MINOR LEAGUE CAMP—The first workout for minor league pitchers and catchers at Charlotte Sports Park is March 7. The first workout for minor league position players is March 11. At that time there will be approximately 150 players in minor league camp.
RAYS PARTNER WITH CHARLOTTE BOYS & GIRLS CLUB FOR SIXTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR—The Sixth Annual BaseBALL Dinner & Auction benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County will be held on Friday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m., at Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center in Punta Gorda. To purchase tickets, fans should call (941) 979-8379. For the sixth consecutive year, the Rays will be featured at the event. Expected this year are Rays Manager Kevin Cash, his coaching staff and several players.
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