PORT CHARLOTTE – Players union chief Tony Clark chose his words carefully, as he often does. But he made clear after Monday's stop on his annual tour of spring camps that the union is also quite interested in seeing the Rays get that new stadium built – and sooner than later – for its own reasons.
"We're encouraged by every team being in the best position possible to maximize the value that we know it has," Clark said. "It's been a longstanding discussion, or conversation, in regard to the facility that the team is currently in. We know there's been a lot of dialogue about possibilities, locations, and how that could be beneficial.
"To the extent that a decision is made sooner rather than later that puts the organization in the best position possible to maximize its value, we're always interested in that. So we're hopeful that considerations can be made sooner rather than later such that a team like the Rays can become what it's capable of becoming, particularly against the backdrop of the challenges that it appears to be having with the current situation."
Without naming the Rays, Clark blamed the unprecedentedly low free-agent market on having 10-plus teams appearing "to be more interested in shedding payroll, not being the last team standing. From a competitive standpoint, if you have a third of the league functioning that way it can't help but adversely affect how any particular market functions.''
Several future Rays starred in Monday's 7-4 exhibition win over the Blue Jays.
Top position player prospect SS Willy Adames, after giving his bat a kiss in the dugout, hit a two-out opposite field homer. OF Joe McCarthy launched a blast deep over the right-centerfield fence. RHP Diego Castillo blazed through another dazzling inning of relief.
But most exciting of all was 20-year-old OF Jesus Sanchez, the team's 2017 minor-league player of the year for his work at Class A Bowling Green. Invited over from minor-league workouts to fill in off the bench, the multi-talented Sanchez took full advantage of his opportunity with a triple and an infield single – and both off lefties – and flashed his usual broad smile afterward.
"I'm so happy,'' he said, having worked on his English as well as his game. "When they invited me over I got really excited.''
Opening day starter Chris Archer looked sharp in his first appearance of the spring, allowing one hit over two inning with two Ks, throwing 17 of his 29 pitches for strikes. "It's February 26 so I'm not going to be too hard on myself,'' Archer said. "I definitely want to be in the strike zone a little bit more, but it was definitely a good building block for spring training.''
RHP Jose De Leon, working to put his lost 2017 behind him, took his impressive practice work into the game with a 1-2-3 inning. …C Jesus Sucre showed off his arm, catching Lourdes Gurriel stealing after a Chris Archer strikeout to end the second. "I really don't understand why people run on him," Archer said. … Racing to beat out a bunt, CF Mallex Smith was called out on an odd interference call that was somewhat hard to explain. … Down 3-1 to a squad of less-than-recognizable Blue Jays, the Rays (3-2) rallied for six in the sixth, including home runs by prospects Willy Adames and Joe McCarthy. … Non-roster OF Jason Coats also homered.
* RHP Nathan Eovaldi said he is "definitely excited" to face big-league hitters Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 10, 2016 before undergoing his second Tommy John surgery.
* One interesting twist to the players association meeting – Rays non-roster RHP Evan Scribner in 2008 – as a Class A minor-leaguer – was traded straight up for union chief Tony Clark.
* RHP Brent Honeywell was to see noted specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday then set the plans for his Tommy John surgery.
* LHP Jonny Venters said his left arm felt good the day after his first spring appearance in five years, trying to make it back from 3 ½ elbow surgeries.
* A locker is now set up in the Rays clubhouse for OF Carlos Gomez, but no word yet on when his $4-million, one-year deal will be finalized.
* Players have their annual media training before Tuesday's workout.