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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: 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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Video: Evan Longoria excited by Rays' new look

Team leader 3B Evan Longoria reported to Rays camp in Port Charlotte today and said he was excited by the new look of the team after the extensive change during the winter,

 

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Live from Port Charlotte: Day 2 of Rays camp

NO FUN: Curt Casali blocks a pitch during spring training camp Tuesday in Port Charlotte.

MARC TOPKIN | Times

NO FUN: Curt Casali blocks a pitch during spring training camp Tuesday in Port Charlotte.

UPDATE, 5:43: Longoria reported and talked a lot about what he called the "mutually beneficial" move by manager Joe Maddon to leave the Rays and join the Cubs, as Longoria said the Rays could use a fresh approach.

Longoria also talked about some changes to his regimen as he seeks to rebound from a disappointing 2014 season.

Look for the full story later tonight on tampabay.com.

UPDATE, 12:18: 1B James Loney reported to camp, which, with Longoria, pushes the total to 57 of the 63.

* Manager Kevin Cash continues to be impressed with the pitchers, noting how many of them already look to be in game shape. "Some guys you sit there and watch and you're like, "Good gosh, he looks like he's ready to go,' '' Cash said. "Watching Archer throw today, it was like he's locked in.''

* There is no update on the status of the two pitchers delayed by visa issues, Ronald Belisario in Venezuela and Alex Colome in the Dominican Republic. …

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Rays' Drew Smyly clarifies tweet on Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada

Drew Smyly on Tuesday clarified a Twitter post he made about the signing of Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Drew Smyly on Tuesday clarified a Twitter post he made about the signing of Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada.

Before the Rays headed on the field for the second day of workouts, LHP Drew Smyly was working to clarify a Twitter post he made about the signing of Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada.

After Moncada agreed to a reported $31.5-million signing bonus with the Red Sox, Smyly tweeted:

It's not right that a Cuban 19yr old gets paid 30m and the best 19yr old in the entire USA gets prob 1/6th of that. Everyone should have to go through same process

This morning, after nearly 1,000 retweets, he explained that he wasn't criticizing Moncada or his deal, but the process and system that doesn't allow all such players to be on the free market, given the draft and other rules.

"I think it's awesome that he got that, I'm all for any player making as much money as they can make in this game. So it's nothing against him or any Cuban player,'' Smyly said.

"I was only trying to say everyone else doesn't have those opportunities. So I think there should be some way where everyone, every amateur, has the same opportunity and guidelines. And that's not even America vs. Cuba; Dominican Republic and Venezuela players don't get that. They have never got close to that signing bonus.'' …

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Rays have a new No. 70 - for the day anyway

Video coordinator Chris "Chico" Fernandez in his new No. 70 jersey for the day

MARC TOPKIN / TAMPA BAY TIMES

Video coordinator Chris "Chico" Fernandez in his new No. 70 jersey for the day

Poking fun at how much time video coordinator Chris "Chico" Fernandez spent hanging with the former manager, the Rays made him wear Joe Maddon's No. 70 on the field Monday, with JR. in the nameplate. "Chico's a good sport,'' new Rays manaer Kevin Cash said. "It was entertaining, I think, for the guys.''

And for Maddon, who was texted several photos at Cubs camp.

Fernandez said he was just following orders; Cash said he'll let Fernandez go back to a number-less pullover on Tuesday.

 

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Must-see photos of Rays players and coaches

Matt Moore, left, and Chris Archer, right

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Matt Moore, left, and Chris Archer, right

Check out these beautiful Instagram photos of Rays players and coaches from Tampa Bay Times photojournalist Will Vragovic and behind-the-scenes footage from director of photography Boyzell Hosey from our Meet the Rays video shoot at spring training camp in Port Charlotte.

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Video report: First workout for Rays, Cash

Our video report from the Rays first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Monday in Port Charlotte, a Will Vragovic production.

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Live from Port Charlotte: It's officially spring training

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey meets with pitchers and catchers in Port Charlotte on Monday morning, the first official day of spring training.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey meets with pitchers and catchers in Port Charlotte on Monday morning, the first official day of spring training.

UPDATE, 11:59: Balfour said he feels fine, that the plan is set up his schedule counting back from opening day, limiting hin to 8-9 spring games as a matter of conserving strength. Will be maybe a week behind the others.

Cash said his first day went well, that his biggest challenge was knowing where to go. "I didn't know what field to be on,'' he said. "So I hung around with the catchers.''

Cabrera said he is open to playing either 2B or SS but would prefer to stick with one. Cash said they will be flexible early in the spring as they have a number of guys to look at but would hope to make a decision sooner or later.

The Rays were in on discussions for Cuban free agent INF Yoan Moncada, but not at anywhere near the final price the Red Sox paid - a reported $31.5-million to Moncada and another $31.5-million in signing fee penalty to MLB.

INF Logan Forsythe also reported to camp, so 54 of the 63 players have reported, with 3B Evan Longoria among those expected on Tuesday. The first full-squad workout is Saturday.
 …

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Emily Austen hired to join Sun Sports broadcast team

Emily Austen joins the Sun Sports team covering Rays games.

Emily Austen joins the Sun Sports team covering Rays games.

Emily Austen, a Tampa native, was hired to join the Sun Sports TV crew broadcasting Rays games serving as the in-game reporter, replacing Kelly Nash.

Austen had been working in Boston as a digital host and reporter for the Celtics.com website. A Gaither High graduate, she previously worked for the Golf Channel as a production assistant and from 2012-13 as a sports anchor/reporter for the Fox TV affiliate in Amarillo, Texas. She is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, where he was a member of the cross-country and track teams.

"I'm coming home,'' Austen posted on her Instagram account. "It's bittersweet to announce that I'm leaving the Boston Celtics to join FOX Florida as the sideline reporter for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Boston has been such an amazing experience for me and I want to thank all of the fans for their love during my time here. From the games in the Garden to two championship parades to running the Boston marathon, I'll always have a piece of this city in my heart.
I'm so blessed to return to my hometown and continue my career dream with FOX and the Rays.
See you soon, Tampa Bay.'' …

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Video: Rays ready to get on field

Our video report from Port Charlotte, as Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash met the media Friday in advance of the opening of spring training, a Will Vragovic production.

 

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