Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rivals rarin' to go Down Under

SYDNEY — Adrian Gonzalez ripped line drives to all areas of the park, often scattering his Dodgers teammates in the outfield from the safety of the batting cage. It was just a few hours after arriving in Australia, with his body thinking it was about midnight.

Still, the first baseman who led Los Angeles in hits, home runs, RBIs and games played last season did a good job of making Sydney Cricket Ground, the home for two season-opening games this weekend, sound and look like a real ballpark.

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks arrived early Tuesday on separate jumbos from the West Coast. It was a 15-hour flight and took the teams across the International Date Line, missing Monday altogether, and putting them in a time zone 18 hours ahead of the one they left behind.

Hence Gonzalez in the batting cage was well past his usual bedtime, but looking pretty impressive.

"We're all very excited to be here," Gonzalez said before the Dodgers' workout. "We'll have a few hits, see how the ball carries, but it all looks like a real ball park."

Vin Scully, the 86-year-old Dodgers announcer, proclaimed after he got off the plane that "it's great to be here," and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and Diamondbacks counterpart Kirk Gibson later gave the field a similar thumbs-up.

"No question, everyone is saying that having a chance to start the season here in Sydney, to be able to get out of spring training a bit early, it's great," Mattingly said. "Let's get this thing started."

INJURED ACE OPTIMISTIC: Mets right-hander Matt Harvey had Tommy John surgery Oct. 22 and isn't expected to return until 2015, but he's convinced that he'll be able to pitch this season. "I still have in my mind that I want to come back this year, and whether the doctors clear that or the people upstairs have other ideas, my mind-set as a competitor is to get back on the field," Harvey said.

MARINERS: Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, out for more than a month with a strained tendon in his right middle finger, was cleared to resume throwing after meeting with team doctors.

MARLINS: Second baseman Rafael Furcal (hamstring) took batting practice and went through some baseball activities, and he could return to action in a few days.

ROYALS: Rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura, 22, won a job in the starting rotation, the Kansas City Star reported. Ventura has been clocked up to 100 mph.

Comments
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Published: 12/16/17
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Published: 12/14/17
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Published: 12/14/17
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Published: 12/14/17
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Published: 12/14/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17