Rays road show
With spring training set to open next week, the Rays are lining up a series of appearances by players and staff. From the initial list released Monday, they are continuing efforts to expand their market beyond the immediate Tampa Bay area with visits to their new spring home of Charlotte County, Lakeland, Sarasota and Manatee counties and Brooksville.
Highlights include a luncheon featuring Rays president Matt Silverman and RHP James Shields in Punta Gorda on Friday; a free clinic given by 1B Carlos Pena, RHP Gary Glover and OF Justin Ruggiano at Lakeland's Peterson Park on Feb. 12; 2B Akinori Iwamura serving as grand marshal of the Central Sarasota and Venice Little League opening day parades on Feb. 16 and an appearance by Jonny Gomes in Brooksville on Feb. 21.
Here are the details from the team press release:
Friday, Charlotte County
· 9 a.m. - Raymond and the Rays Street Team will welcome students to school at Murdock Middle School, 17325 Mariner Way, Port Charlotte.
· 11:30 a.m. - Luncheon, Benedetto’s Steakhouse, 300 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Rays president Matt Silverman; senior VP Gerry Hunsicker; senior director of development Melanie Lenz; pitchers James Shields, Edwin Jackson and James Houser; and broadcasters Dave Wills and Andy Freed. Call (727) 825-3154 for tickets and more information.
· 6 p.m. - Autograph session at Charlotte County Fair, 2333 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte.
Tuesday, Feb. 12, Lakeland
· 2 p.m. – 1B Carlos Peña, RHP Gary Glover and OF Justin Ruggiano visit the Lakeland Regional Medical Center’s Pediatric Unit, 1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd.
· 4 p.m. Pena, Glover and Ruggiano will conduct a baseball clinic at Peterson Park, 3700 Cleveland Heights Blvd., Lakeland. Clinic is free and open to the public and free hot dogs will be served.
· 6:30 p.m. - The Rays will greet fans and sign autographs at GrillSmith Restaurant at the Lakeland Town Center, 1569 Town Center Drive.
Saturday, Feb. 16 Sarasota/Manatee counties
· 9:30 & 11:00 a.m. – 2B Akinori Iwamura will serve as Grand Marshall at the Opening Day parades for the Central Sarasota Little League (9:30 a.m.) and the Venice Little League (11 a.m.).
· RHPs Al Reyes and Jason Hammel will greet fans and sign autographs from 2-3:30 p.m. at Champs in the Sarasota Square Mall.
· Reyes and Hammel will participate in the Manatee District 26 Little Leagues Opening Day Celebration at G.T. Bray Park, 3701 59th St. West, Bradenton, starting at 4:30 p.m.
Thursday Feb. 21, Brooksville
OFs Jonny Gomes and Justin Ruggiano and RHP Andy Sonnanstine, mascot Raymond and broadcasters Dave Wills and Rich Herrera will participate in the 2008 Community Days. Details to come.