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For starters, Rays vs. Twins

After losing 3-2 in their spring opener and Kevin Cash's first game as manager, the Rays are back at it today at the Charlotte Sports Park, hosting the Twins at 1:05.

RHP Jake Odorizzi, coming off a 2014 season that got better as it went, will be on the mound for the Rays.

The Rays lineup is expected to have a different look today, with most of the players who started Thursday off today. Nick Franklin will get the start at the shortstop job he covets, and prized acquisition Steven Souza Jr. will be in rightfield. Also of note, Logan Forsythe will be at first base, a position the Rays need to see how he can play as a potential righthanded hitting backup to James Loney.

Here is the lineup as posted Thursday:
Franklin ss
Rivera c
Cabrera dh
Jennings cf
DeJesus lf
Souza rf
Forsythe 1b
Francisco 3b
Elmore 2b
Odorizzi p

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Video report: Cash's first game a 3-2 loss

Our video report from the Rays spring opening 3-2 loss to Baltimore in Kevin Cash's first game as manager.

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For openers, Rays vs. Orioles

Rays manager Kevin Cash, speaking to his father, Mike.

MARC TOPKIN | Times1

Rays manager Kevin Cash, speaking to his father, Mike.

UPDATE, 9:37: Cash said he is excited for his first game as manager and not nervous - yet anyway. He has 12-14 relatives coming, said he felt embarassed to ask for that many tickets. ... There is a locker and No. 84 jersey for Miller, who was to take a physical this morning,

 

UPDATE, 8:32: Here is the Orioles lineup:
DeAza rf
Cabrera 2b
Clevenger c
Snider lf
Paredes 3b
Urrutia dh
Parmalee 1b
Lough cf
Flaherty ss
Chen p

DEVELOPING: The Rays - finally - open the exhibition season today against the Orioles at the Charlotte Sports Park at 1 p.m. Tickets are available.

Late Wednesday, the Rays made an addition to their camp roster, agreeeing to terms with reliever Jim Miller, who has time in five  big-league seasons, on a minor-league deal pending a physical.

Today will be the first game as a manager at any level for Kevin Cash, the Tampa native who was hired in December.

RHP Nathan Karns will start for the Rays, taking the first step in the spring wide battle for the No. 5 spot, with RHP Alex Colome (who has yet to report due to visa issues), RHP Burch Smith and RHP Matt Andriese the main competition. …

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Video: Cobb on being named Rays opening day starter

Pitcher Alex Cobb on being named the Rays' starter for the April 6 season opener against Baltimore at the Trop:

 

 

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UPDATED: Rays starter Alex Cobb earns a save — of this stray dog

Here is the stray dog Alex Cobb brought home.

[Photo by ALEX COBB]

Here is the stray dog Alex Cobb brought home.

UPDATED, 9:15 a.m. WEDNESDAY:  Cobb found out through an embedded chip that the dog is named Oscar and tracked down the original owner, but the Fort Myers woman told Cobb she had given the now 2-year-old dog to someone else, and would try to reach them.

Meanwhile, Cobb, and his bulldog, Axel, are growing attached to the newcomer he said reminds him of Baxter from the Anchorman movies. "We're going to hang on to it for a while,'' Cobb said. "That's dangerous, though, because his personality is starting to grow on me.''

DEVELOPING: Alex Cobb is the Rays' top starting pitcher, but he earned a save Monday when he chased down and brought home a stray dog that was running loose in traffic.

Cobb took the dog  back to his Port Charlotte rental home Monday afternoon, and planned to bring him to the Humane Society to be checked out later Tuesday, as the Rays helped put out word — and a picture of the dog — to reporters in hopes of locating the owner. (They also set up an email account: lostdog@raysbaseball.com.) …

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Live from Port Charlotte: 1st spring lineup has Longoria 4th

In addition to announcing the order of the pitching rotation with Alex Cobb as the opening day starter, Rays manager Kevin Cash also unveiled the batting order for Thursday's exhibition opener.

And for starters, the middle of their batting order has Asdrubal Cabrera third, Evan Longoria fourth and James Loney fifth. Obviously it's only the first spring game, and all the projected starters are not in there, including OF Steven Souza Jr., but it's still interesting for the first glance at what Cash and Co. are thinking.

Also of note, Tim Beckham is leading off and playing second, with Cabrera at short in what is expected to be a spring long evaluation; and the showcasing of likely-to-be-traded veteran David DeJesus begins with a start in LF.

Here is the lineup as posted:
Beckham 2b
Jaso dh
Cabrera ss
Longoria 3b
Loney 1b
DeJesus lf
Guyer rf
Kiermaier cf
Casali c
Karns p



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Alex Cobb named Rays' Opening Day starting pitcher

Rays starter Alex Cobb throws live batting practice during the first full-squad workout of spring training last week in Port Charlotte.

[WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Rays starter Alex Cobb throws live batting practice during the first full-squad workout of spring training last week in Port Charlotte.

The Rays named RHP Alex Cobb their opening day starter.

Cobb will be followed in the rotation by RHP Chris Archer and LHP Drew Smyly in the April 6-8 opening series vs. Baltimore at the Trop. RHP Jake Odorizzi will be next, starting the opening game of the April 10-12 weekend series; the Rays have to determine who will win the fifth starter's spot.

Cobb said his initial reaction was "Joy.''

"There's a lot of things on your short list of career highlights that you can say you've done," said Cobb. "Obvioiusly, with being in the World Series and winning the World Series being at the top. Being an Opening Day starter falls somewhat shorter than that, but it's right up on that list."

Without David Price, who started three of the past four openers, the honor figured to come down to either Cobb or RHP Chris Archer. Cobb was pleased to get picked. …

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Live from Port Charlotte: Final day of live BP, games in sight

Ernesto Frieri throws live batting practice today in Port Charlotte.

MARC TOPKIN | Times

Ernesto Frieri throws live batting practice today in Port Charlotte.

UPDATE, 2:05: Foley was feeling lightheaded and dehydrated so he went down on one knee in the outfield, which is what drew attention. He was taken in by the trainers and checked out and is fine, manager Kevin Cash said.

Among the pitchers who impressed Cash today were relievers Jeff Beliveau, Brandon Gomes and Kirby Yates.

"I think everyone is ready to get going,'' Cash said.

Wednesday will be an abbreviated workout with the players in shorts.

DEVELOPING: The Rays are on the field for their final extended full-squad workout before starting exhibition play on Thurday.

Here are a couple of early notes:

* Bench coach Tom Foley had to leave the field early as he was dizzy and possibly dehydrated, and is being checked out.

* INF Asdrubal Cabrera missed the workout as he was sent home after reporting this morning with stomach-flu like symptoms. RHP Jake Odorizzi had similar issues earlier in the week.

* RHP Chris Archer was among the pitchers throwing in the last day of live batting practice. He is scheduled for his first exhibition start on Sunday.

* The Rays will have an early and abbreviated workout on Wednesday in advance of the team's annual charity golf tournament. …

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Live from Port Charlotte: Day 3 of live BP

Drew Smyly's windshield was on the receiving end of Tim Beckham's hit.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Drew Smyly's windshield was on the receiving end of Tim Beckham's hit.

UPDATE, 1:25: The "highlight" of today's workout appeared to be the ball INF Tim Beckham hit during batting pratiice that smashed the windshield of LHP Drew Smyly's car.

"I hope BMW covers that; if not, meal money will,'' Beckham said.

Beckham also joked that Smyly take it up with pitching coach Jim Hickey, who was throwing the BP session: "Blame Hickey, he threw it to the barrell.''

Smyly was scrambling to see if he could get it repaired this afternoon: "I'll find a new spot tomorrow.''

Also:

* It seemed the pitchers were getting a little bored with the live batting practice routine, RHP Alex Cobb saying that without the hitters swinging, there wasn't much point to it. Manager Kevin Cash said he understood and that everyone is eager to get to games,

* Installation of the clock to time the period between half innings was taking place in the outfield at the Charlotte Sports Park.

* The Rays worked on rundown plays, with the emphasis on making only one throw, and a good one.

* The team pro scouts are assembled in Port Charlotte for three days of meetings, …

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Live from Port Charlotte: It's day 3 of live BP

Early morning fog has cleared here at the Charlotte Sports Park, and the Rays are headed out for the third of four days of live batting practice in advance of Thursday's exhibition opener.

Among the pitchers scheduled to throw today are RHP Alex Cobb, the likely opening day starter; RHP Nathan Karns, one of the leading candidates for the No. 5 spot in the rotation; and two of the hardest throwers in camp, RHP Jose Dominguez and RHP Jhan Marinez.

The Rays will have another full workout on Tuesday, then an abbreviated session Wednesday before heading to the annual charity golf tournament.

Karns will start Thursday's exhibition opener vs. the Orioles.

 

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Live from Port Charlotte: Day 2 of live BP

UPDATE, 1:04: The Rays set their rotation for the first three exhibition games, with RHP Nathan Karns starting the Thursday opener vs. Baltimore, RHP Matt Andriese on Friday vs. Minnesota and RHP Alex Cobb on Saturday vs. Pittsburgh in Bradenton.

Karns and Andriese are two of the candidates for the open spot in the rotation at the start of the season, along with RHP Alex Colome, who remains delayed by visa issues in the Dominican Republic. RHP Burch Smith is another possibility for that role.

New mananger Kevin Cash said the starters will work only one inning, two tops, the first time through.

Among other notes:

* The Rays plan to use LHP Mike Montgomery in a relief role this spring, which creates an interesting possibility for the big-league bullpen at the start of the season, when LHP Jake McGee will be out. …

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Live from Port Charlotte: Belisario hurt, Zimmer honored

Rays players gathered for unveiling of the "Don Zimmer Way" sign before first workout today.

MARC TOPKIN / TAMPA BAY TIMES

Rays players gathered for unveiling of the "Don Zimmer Way" sign before first workout today.

UPDATE, 12:05: Silverman said Belisario told them he hurt his shoulder getting out of a swimming pool about a month ago and didn't have it checked until he got here. He wont't throw for at least two weeks and is unlikely to be ready to start the season.

Among other notes:

Silverman says Cash's address to team was "compact and powerful.'' The whole meeting took under 30 minutes. Silverman said he spoke of maintaining "the winning culture" they have established.

The idea of renaming the path to fields that Zimmer rode in golf cart on came from Charlotte County staff, the Rays say. Also, the team and Clearwater for Youth tonight also will present first Don Zimmer Memorial Scholarship. …

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Kevin Cash concerned over Alex Colome's visa delays

PORT CHARLOTTE – A few quick notes from today’s spring training workouts….

Manager Kevin Cash the visa issues with RHP Alex Colome are getting closer to a resolution, but the team is already “concerned” with his absence.

 “It starts to be a concern already,” Cash said. “Hopefully he’s on track. We’re getting reports he’s throwing bullpens and stuff. Still, you want him here.”

Colome, a native of the Dominican Republic, is the only one of the Rays’ 63 players yet to arrive.

LHP Matt Moore threw about 25 pitches in his bullpen session today. He said he felt fine – but not yet normal – as he continues to recover from last April’s Tommy John surgery.

Moore expects to start throwing breaking balls in a few weeks and is targeting a return before the All-Star break.

Cash and the Rays’ brass met with Peter Woodfork (MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations) and umpire supervisor Charlie Reliford in the morning to talk about some of the new rules.

 

“It was nothing alarming,” Cash said. “Pretty common-sense stuff.”

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Boog Powell reports to Rays camp, only one still missing

WHAT NEXT? Rays pitchers take a break during spring training camp Friday in Port Charlotte. [MATT BAKER | Times]

WHAT NEXT? Rays pitchers take a break during spring training camp Friday in Port Charlotte. [MATT BAKER | Times]

PORT CHARLOTTE – Outfielder Boog Powell reported to Rays camp this morning, leaving right-hander Alex Colome as the only one of the 63 players who hasn’t yet arrived. Colome is being delayed because of visa issues in the Dominican Republic.

Powell, who came to the Rays in the Ben Zobrist trade, got in around 9 last night and said he was excited for the opportunity as a nonroster invite.

“It went from being with the A’s in the big league camp to having an opportunity to come here and get the chance I want,” Powell said.

 

Pitchers Matt Moore and Jose Dominguez are expected to throw bullpen sessions today, and lefty reliever Jake McGee said he plans to throw from 105 feet for the second time this week.

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Live from Port Charlotte: Balfour leaves camp, Hendrick visits

Former 1B coach George Hendrick made an appearance at camp in his new role as special advisor, and was greeted warmly.

MARC TOPKIN | Times

Former 1B coach George Hendrick made an appearance at camp in his new role as special advisor, and was greeted warmly.

UPDATE, 1:25: The Rays got their work in despite some light rain.

Some further news/notes:

* LHP Drew Smyly did not throw a bullpen session with the other pitchers in his group, but he and manager Kevin Cash said that was by design as he prefers a slightly different program than the Rays use. Smyly will throw bullpens every third day, instead of every other as the other pitchers, and will throw more each time. As a result, he also will make one less exhibition appearance, not debuting until March 10-11.

* Balfour figures to be gone at least 5-7 days, though he told Rays officials he will be able to maintain his exercise and throwing program during his absence.

* Hendrick said he wanted to take the chance to visit and wish the players well since he likely won't be around much, but was okay with the decision. "They allowed me to be in the organization for nine years and we got a lot accomplished,'' Hendrick said. "I've got no complaints, and I'll leave it at that.'' …

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