Everything you need to know about today’s Rays opener

The stage was set Wednesday night for the Rays opener. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
The stage was set Wednesday night for the Rays opener. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Published March 29
Updated March 29

Today: vs. Red Sox
When/where: 4, Tropicana Field
TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, ESPN; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)
Tickets: Sold out
Promotion: 20th anniversary cowbell; schedule magnet

Opening day schedule
11 a.m.: Parking lots open, $12 until 1 p.m., $15 after. Under new policy to increase efficiency, cash is no longer accepted at team lots, just credit cards, Rays cards or prepaid passes.
12:55 p.m.: Rays batting practice.
1:55: Red Sox batting practice.
2: Gates open, Rays players greeting fans at Gate 1 rotunda.
3:37: Team introductions.
3:49: National anthem, Belinda Womack, local actor/singer/teacher/worship leader who performed anthem at 1998 inaugural game. Flag presented by Rays season ticket holders.
3:51: Ceremonial first pitch, Tom Foley, Rays current special assistant and longtime coach, who has been with organization since 1996.
3:58: Rays take the field
4: First pitch, by Chris Archer

Projected lineups:

Red Sox
1. Mookie Betts†† †RF
2. Andrew Benintendi†† †LF
3. Hanley Ramirez†† †1B
4. J.D. Martinez†† †DH
5. Xander Bogaerts†† †SS
6. Rafael Devers†† †3B
7. Eduardo Nunez†† †2B
8. Christian Vazquez†† †C
9. Jackie Bradley†† †CF
LHP Chris Sale

Rays
1. Carlos Gomez†† †RF
2. Kevin Kiermaier†† †CF
3. Matt Duffy†† †3B
4. C.J. Cron†† †1B
5. Wilson Ramos†† †C
6. Denard Span†† †LF
7. Adeiny Hechavarria†† †SS
8. Daniel Robertson†† †2B
9. Rob Refsnyder†† †DH
RHP Chris Archer

MORE: Ranking the Rays' players from 1 to 26

Probable pitchers
Rays: RH Chris Archer (10-12, 4.07 in 2017)
Red Sox: LH Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 in 2017)
On Archer: Sustained right forearm contusion in Friday spring finale. 1-2, 3.57 in previous opening day starts. 2-12, 5.45 in 19 starts vs. Boston.
On Sale: Sustained left hip contusion in Saturday spring finale. 8-5, 3.29 in 16 games vs. Tampa Bay.

Rays vs. Sale
C.J. Cron†† †0-for-10
Adeiny Hechavarria†† †3-for-14 HR
Kevin Kiermaier†† †5-for-14 HR
Wilson Ramos†† †4-for-11 2 HR
Denard Span†† †3-for-11

Red Sox vs. Archer
Andrew Benintendi†† †5-for-10
Mookie Betts†† †12-for-31 4 HR
Xander Bogaerts†† †8-for-30
J.D. Martinez†† †4-for-17 HR
Hanley Ramirez†† †7-for-21

On deck
Friday: vs. Red Sox, 7:10. Rays, LH Blake Snell (5-7, 4.04 in 2017); Red Sox, LH David Price (6-3, 3.38)
Saturday: vs. Red Sox, 6:10. Rays, Reliever TBA; Red Sox, RH Rick Porcello (11-17, 4.65)
Sunday: vs. Red Sox, 1:10. Rays, RH Jake Faria (5-4, 3.43); Red Sox, RH Hector Velazquez (3-1, 2.92)
Monday: at Yankees, 1:05. Rays, TBA; Yankees, LH Jordan Montgomery (9-7, 3.88)

By the numbers
0† Times Rays have been shut out on opening day.
3 Opening days for Rays this season: Thursday, at New York on Monday, at Boston on April 5.
4 Consecutive opening day starts by Chris Archer, most in team history.
9 Consecutive seasons Rays have opened at home, 14th overall (7-6)
13 Consecutive home openers sold out by Rays.
13 Ĺ Hours of TV coverage today by Fox Sports Sun, starting at 8:30 a.m. with season preview show, live at 3 p.m.
21 Opening days for Devil Rays/Rays; 10-10 record thus far.

What's new at the Trop
The Rays unveiled several impressive improvements to the Trop as the result of a $7 million investment including a team store rebranded as the Rays Republic, a new indoor/outdoor bar and games area called Ballpark & Rec that will stay open after games and a series of new food items from leading Tampa Bay area restaurants, as well as their own Rocco Ball Deli.† Among the new food providers working with the new Levy concessionaire are Rumfish (including mahi tacos, firecracker shrimp, tuna poke); The Avenue/Kings Street Food Counter (grilled cheese, nachos, sliders); The Moon Under Water (fish and chips); Kahwa Coffee (hot, iced, nitro); and the Parkshore Grill/400 Beach/The Annex/The Hanger group (grouper wraps, blue cheese meatballs, quesadillas and Cuban sandwich).

PHOTOS: What's new to eat, drink and see at Tropicana Field

Also, there is† new turf that was installed by Shaw Sports, a replacement for what was put in last year. The new slightly darker turf looked better — "It's green," manager Kevin Cash said — but according to SS Adeiny Hechavarria and several others, "it plays about the same." The only complaint was that the lip between the turf and infield dirt was too high, but that seems easily adjusted. … Tuesday was also the first look at the new protective netting that extends to the outfield ends of the dugouts, which paid off in the first inning when RF Carlos Gomez lost the grip on his bat and it sailed over the Detroit dugout.

Who won't be there
Among 2017 Rays who have new homes:
OF Peter Bourjos: Braves
RHP Brad Boxberger: D'backs
RHP Steve Cishek: Cubs
RHP Alex Cobb: Orioles
OF Corey Dickerson: Pirates
1B Lucas Duda: Royals
Pitching coach Jim Hickey: Cubs
RHP Tommy Hunter*: Phillies
3B Evan Longoria: Giants
1B Logan Morrison: Royals
RHP Jake Odorizzi: Twins
OF Steven Souza Jr.*: D'backs
RHP Chase Whitley: Braves
* disabled list

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