For starters, Rays vs Jays (and Pirates), split squad edition
Update 11:35 a.m. RHP Juan Carlos-Oviedo was excited to finally arrive in Rays camp Saturday, saying he was frustrated for the lengthy delay due to visa issues.
Oviedo said he's been throwing regularly in the Dominican Republic, but not to hitters, so he hopes to do that soon. But Oviedo feels he can be ready for Opening Day Mar. 31.
Manager Joe Maddon, as expected, said the Rays will be "cautious" with Oviedo, as he's been throwing a lot without any attention by the medical staff. Oviedo will throw a bullpen session today, and possibly throw to hitters Monday.
*The Rays will continue to evaluate the fifth starter competition with LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP Cesar Ramos each pitching today. There's a chance each could get another turn before the decision is made.
*Bench coach Davey Martinez predicts this will be the season CF Desmond Jennings finally puts it together and has a big year with "big numbers." Martinez has seen Jennings increased maturity, and believes he has all the tools.
*The list of Rays shaving their heads Sunday for pediatric cancer has grown to nearly 30 players and staff. Martinez is hoping to add one more big name, bugging Wil Myers to shave off "that thing he has on top of his head." So far, Myers has been hesitant, but Martinez says he's going to bug him all day.
Developing: The Rays will have a busy today, with split-squad games in Port Charlotte and Bradenton.
They will have a strong traveling squad to face the Pirates at McKechnie Field, wit Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers among the group. In Port Charlotte, Tampa Bay hosts the Blue Jays, with Evan Longoria and Yunel Escobar playing.
The key thing to watch today will be the fifth starter competition, as manager Joe Maddon said the team should have a pretty good idea who they'll pick after each of the three candidates pitch today.
LHP Erik Bedard is starting in Port Charlotte, with RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP Cesar Ramos in Bradenton.
In other news, RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, expected to be a big part of the bullpen, finally arrived in Rays camp, having been delayed for weeks due to visa issues. He said he's been throwing in the Dominican Republic, but not to hitters, though believes he'll be ready for Opening Day. He'll throw a bullpen session today and face hitters Monday.
Here are the lineups for today's split-squad games. I'll be tweeting live updates from Bradenton (@TBTimes_JSmith).
Rays lineup vs Pirates
Jose Tabata lf
Rays lineup vs Blue Jays (in Port Charlotte)
J. Moore DH