Rays open camp
James Shields, right, pitches from the practice mound. [Times photo | Dirk Shadd]
In a word, manager Joe Maddon said he was "pleased" with the first day of camp. There were no players restricted by injury, no unpleasant surprises and nothing that went wrong.
The Rays did announce that nine players had agreed to terms on one-year deals, including RHP Matt Garza, RHP Edwin Jackson and C Dioner Navarro. The others are RHP Mitch Talbot, RHP Calvin Medlock, OF Fernando Perez, OF Justin Ruggiano and LHP Kurt Birkins. They are all players with 0-3 years of service time, which means they make at or near the major-league minimum of $390,000 and the Rays have the option of setting their salary if they don't agree to a deal.
UPDATE (11:06 AM)
Catcher Dioner Navarro was not at Friday's workout, having had to return home to Venezuela for what the team said was "a family emergency," which involved the health of his mother. The Rays don't know yet when Navarro will return, but his absence should not affect his job status as the starting catcher.
Navarro, 24, has had to deal with a number of family issues during his brief career, including complicated medical matters with his wife and son.
The sun shone brightly on the Rays Friday morning as they opened their 11th spring training with considerable optimism and high expectations.
Of the 35 pitchers and catchers expected to be on the field, the only one missing appeared to be reliever Juan Salas, who was delayed by the typical visa problems in the Dominican Republic.
Manager Joe Maddon was the first out the door of the clubhouse at 9:55 a.m., ahead of all the players, noting "Nobody's out here." Moments later he was joined by the group with reliever Chad Orvella leading the players out the door and J.P. Howell the first to hit on the grass.
Among position players on hand as well were B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria.