Grant Balfour pitches against the Yankees last week in a spring training game in Port Charlotte.
UPDATE, 10:15: Raul Ibanez, who took himself out of the running for the Rays managerial job to spend more time with his family, has been hired as a studio analyst by Fox, SI.com reports.
UPDATE, 10:03: RHP Alex Cobb (forearm tendinitis) played catch again today and it went well.
LHP Matt Moore (TJ surgery) and LHP Jake McGee (arthroscopic elbow surgery) will throw bullpens on Tuesday.
Orioles lineup: De Aza cf Reimold lf Paredes 3b Young rf Snider dh Schoop 2b Flaherty 1b Lavarnway c Cabrera ss Davies p
UPDATE, 9:55: Some morning notes from Rays manager Kevin Cash's media session:
* LHP Drew Smyly came thru Sunday bullpen session well, will throw live BP Weds and Sat then progress into rehab games. Also Cash that Smyly's return could be accelerated based on team need, say after 75-pitch rehab start rather than 105.
* The outfield experiment with John Jaso has gone well enough he could start a game out there in Miami in the second series.
* RHP Alex Colome will continue to be stretched out as a starter as he works his way through minor-league rehab games. …
UPDATE, 5:50: The Rays lost 3-2 in 10 innings to the Red Sox.
UPDATE, 8:53: LHP Drew Smyly (shoulder tendinitis) said he continues to feel better and though his scheduled is set "in pencil" he expects to be back pitching for the Rays sometime in April, and there would have to be a setback for him not to be.
RHP Alex Cobb said he feels good the day after his first throwing session, is off today (with Grand Prix duties in St. Pete), and plays catch again Monday
Boxberger said he asked to start today because he wanted to face the top Boston hitters he is likely to see during season.
Red Sox lineup:
Betts CF, Pedroia 2B, Ortiz DH, Ramirez LF, Sandoval 3B, Napoli 1B, Victorino RF, Bogaerts SS, Swihart C, Johnson p
UPDATE, 12:04: Cobb said his throwng session went well, that it's back to "square one but I don't think there's as many squares,'' and he expects to be back pitching for the Rays sometime in April. He said there was some tightness, as he would expect after 10 days off, comparing it to the first time he throws in the off-season, and said he was glad to get the first step back out of the way.
UPDATE, 9:44: Manager Kevin Cash said he would expect the final decisions on the Rays roster to come down to the April 5 deadline. "Whatever that deadline is, that's what I would anticipate,'' he said.
LHP Drew Smyly (shoulder tendinitis) will throw his fourth bullpen session on Sunday, and could next progress to facing hitters.
RHP Alex Colome said he will throw a 40-pitch bullpen session today, and also that the Rays have decided to put him on the 15-day DL with a plan for him to be ready about two weeks into the season. Also, he will remain on a starting schedule, with plans to get stretched out to 85 pitches in his final rehab start. …
Vince Naimoli was chosen to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the franchise being awarded. [Times files (2008)]
The Rays are making an unexpected nod to their past in picking previous team owner Vince Naimoli to throw out the first pitch prior to the April 6 season opener.
Naimoli was chosen to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the franchise being awarded.
"We are glad to have Vince Naimoli throw out the first pitch as we recognize 20 years since Tampa Bay was awarded a major league franchise,'' current principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "Vince led the effort to bring baseball here and has continued to enrich the community with his charitable giving.''
Naimoli is the Tampa businessman who led the group that was won the franchise in March 1995 to cap the Tampa Bay area's 20-year pursuit of a team, though his tenure was often marked by controversy and confrontation.
He sold the team to the group led by Sternberg, which took over after the 2005 season.
Naimoli, 77, still resides in Tampa and attends some games at the Trop.
Crews prepare to cover the field at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
The Rays and Orioles got 3 1/2 innings in at Ed Smith Stadium before storms arrived from the coast. LHP Everett Teaford, vying for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, and left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery logged two innings each.
Baltimore led 4-3 when play was stopped. Facing the Orioles' de facto opening day lineup, Teaford gave up a first-pitch home run to LF Nolan Reimold, then retired the next six batters he faced.
Rays C Rene Rivera hit his third home run of the spring, a one-out solo shot to left, where the wind was blowing outward.
DEVELOPING (11:50 a.m.) : The Rays are scheduled to face the Orioles in Sarasota today, but rain has begun falling at Ed Smith Stadium, and in the infield is shrouded beneath a tarp.
The Rays took batting practice and did other pre-game work here in Port Charlotte, delaying what usually is a 9:15 bus to 10:30 at the earliest for the 45-minute trip.
With LHP Everett Teaford, who is bidding for a spot on the staff, scheduled to pitch rather than one of the established starters, a rainout won't have a dramatic impact on their plans. Also, most of the starting position players were not in the lineup today.
The Rays continue to further whittle their spring roster, cutting the number to 44 by reassigning veteran RHP Ronald Belisario, prospect RHP Andrew Bellatti, RHP Bryce Stowell and INF Eugenio Velez.
More moves are possible Friday as teams can start putting players on the 15-day DL, which also allows for optioned players to be recsalled.
Belisario, who was sidelined for nearly a month after reporting to camp with a fractured left shoulbder, is expected to be part of the Rays bullpen at some point this season, manager Kevin Cash said, noting his ability to get a lot of ground balls. But because Belisario is just starting to throw bullpen sessions the Rays sent him down to keep preparing.
Cash also noted that Velez, who can play infield and outfield and can hit a bit, could also be of help.
Bellatti and Stowell, who both pitched in the bullpen for Double-A Montgomery last season, needed to start getting regular work.
New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred talks with Ray pitcher Chris Archer.
New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said today the lack of a new stadium is the biggest issue facing the Rays and called on local government to provide assistance in resolving the situation.
"You have to conclude that the stadium issue is the key issue because the Rays have put a great product on the field consistently for a really long period of time,'' Manfred said during a visit to Rays camp this morning. "It's not a situation where you can blame a lack of support on the fact you don't have a good product. (Baseball operations president) Matt (Silverman), (principal owner) Stu (Sternberg), the whole Rays team has done a fantastic job in really difficult circumstances putting a competitive product on the field.''
While Manfred said "the good news" for Tampa Bay area fans was that Sternberg "remains committed to the idea that the Rays should be here,'' he did put the onus on local government leaders - though he didn't specify St. Petersburg or Tampa - to help.
"From our perspective it is very difficult to get a new stadium done without cooperation, help, assistance from local government,'' Manfred said. "We're hoping - we're hoping - that Stuart gets that kind of help so that they can get a facility that will keep the Rays and keep them competitive for the long term.''
Manfred said he will follow Sternberg's lead on the best route and has "no firm timetable" for action, but did say, "Obviously there are 30 teams and it's in everyone's best interests to have 30 strong franchises, and our markets have to participate in making sure that we have major-league quality facilities everywhere.''
Manfred also said "it's always a concern when we have a franchise that doesn't have the support in terms of attendance, sponsorships, all the revenue streams that are necessary to keep a team competitive. We want all 30 teams to be competitive franchises and obviously local support is the key to that. So it's a big concern for us.''
Manfred says the Athletics and Rays stadium issues are "1 and 1-A, they're a single entry in my mind.'' …
Logan Forsythe turns a double play during an exhibition spring training game against the Minnesota Twins last week in Port Charlotte.
Rays infielder Logan Forsythe can fill a number of part-time roles as needed, but he'll open the season getting most of the work at second base as Nick Franklin is likely out at least a month with an oblique injury.
"It's unfortunate what happened with Nick ... but it's exciting. It's an opportunity," said Forsythe, 28, who played 74 of his 110 games with the Rays last season at second.
Forsythe leads the Rays with three home runs in 25 spring at-bats -- he had six total in 301 at-bats last year -- and said he's feeling more comfortable in his second year in the organization after being acquired in January 2014 from the Padres.
"I think anybody coming into an organization doesn't want to step on any toes, wants to get to know people," he said. "I could say that was the case last year, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse. But I do feel more comfortable, a little bit more confident coming into this spring and definitely going into this season. We'll see what happens." …
UPDATE, 12:30: Greg Auman with an update from manager Kevin Cash's pregame session with the media.
-- Right-hander Ronald Belisario, coming back from a left shoulder fracture, threw a "really good bullpen," Cash said. "He's going to help us this year, for sure," said Cash, who likes him as a ground-ball pitcher.
-- The latest on LHP Drew Smyly, recovering from left shoulder tendinitis, is "all good. Everything was good." His next step is another bullpen session, then they'll go from there.
-- In easing Rene Rivera into getting ready for start of season, Rays are DHing him Friday, then play catcher two games and get a day off before catching three games in a row.
-- The Rays have an all-bullpen day today with no projected starters pitching. Cash originally had RHP Kevin Jepsen pitching first, but switched him out for LHP Jordan Norberto. He said Jepsen won't ever start during season and didn't want to throw him out of his comfort zone. All today's relievers will get Friday off, then should get some back-to-back work to prepare them before spring training is over. …
Catcher Rene Rivera is expected back in the lineup after missing the last few days due to left calf tightness.
UPDATE, 11:16: With INF Nick Franklin likely out at least a few weeks into the season, Logan Forsythe will get the bulk of the playing time at second base. There's a chance that two of the other three middle infielders will now make the team, from the group of Tim Beckham and non-roster invitees Jake Elmore and Alexi Casilla.
Manager Kevin Cash said the reports on Cobb were good.
In talking about the rotation vacancies, Cash acknowledged that Karns is pretty much in, and that the other two spots are "up for grabs.'' RHP Matt Andriese, who starts today, is a leading candidate.
UPDATE, 10:23: RHP Alex Cobb (forearm tendinitis) said his visit with Dr. Koco Eaton went well and expects to resume throwing in the next few days: "The pain is pretty much gone today. I can't even make it hurt.''
Dozier 2b Escobar ss Mauer dh Vargas 1b Suzuki c Rosario lf Nunez 3b Robinson rf Hicks cf Gibson p
UPDATE, 8:43: Rays lineup looking a lot like it could on opening day, though with Archer starting:
Jaso DH, Rivera c, Cabrera SS, Longoria 3b, Loney 1b, Jennings LF, Kiermaier cf, S Souza rf, Beckham 2b, Andriese p
The Rays will permanently honor longtime senior adviser Don Zimmer by retiring his No. 66 he in a ceremony before the April 6 season-opener.
The Rays made official plans to permanently honor longtime senior adviser Don Zimmer by retiring his No. 66 he in a ceremony before the April 6 season-opener.
"Don Zimmer enriched the lives of everyone in the Rays family, and he played a significant part in the growth of our organization," Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. "Zim's presence has been a gift to the game of baseball, and his influence will be felt for years to come.
"It has been a true privilege of my stewardship of the Rays to have had Don as such an important part of our organization. It is with great pride that we honor him and the game by retiring his number."
Zimmer, who died last June 4 after battling several ailments, was with the Rays for 11 years - the most of any team he played for, coached or managed. He increased his number annually to reflect his number of years in professional baseball, last wearing No. 66.
He broke into the majors in 1954 with the Dodgers, where he would team with Jackie Robinson, and went on to play for Cubs, Mets, Reds and Senators. He managed the Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and Cubs, and was a bench coach for the Yankees dynastic run. …
The Tampa Bay Rays head into the 2015 season with Evan Longoria, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and numerous new faces, including manager Kevin Cash and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Can they upend the Orioles in the highly competitive AL East? Come here to follow Rays news at Tropicana Field and beyond.