How's it hanging, Norm?
The Rays announced that the ceremonial first pitch at Sunday's season opener will be … actor George Wendt, best known for playing Norm on Cheers from 1982-93. He's the first actor to get opening day honors for the Rays, who will also have commissioner Rob Manfred in the building, the first time a commissioner has attended a Rays home opener at Tropicana Field.
Quote of the day
"He's actually swung the bat really well, too, on the back fields. … A lot of his at-bats came on the back fields, but he's looked good at the plate here as of late."
Manager Kevin Cash on C Hank Conger, who is 4-for-26 (.154) in spring training.
The Rays announced that saxophonist BK Jackson, a Tampa native, will play the U.S. and Canadian national anthems before Sunday's season opener against Toronto.
The dish Rays vs. Pirates
When/where: 1:05 today; Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte.
Radio: raysbaseball.com (signup required)
Tickets: Reserved seats $19-29, berm/boardwalk $10. Available via raysbaseball.com, by calling toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS), and at CSP or Tropicana Field box offices, team Tampa Store (400 N Tampa St.).
Gates open: 11 a.m.
Directions: Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: Interstate 75 South to Toledo Blade Road. Go west 6½ miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776). Go right 2 miles. Stadium complex is on left.
Parking: $10, lots open at 10.
Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS)
Pitchers: Rays — Jake Odorizzi, Xavier Cedeno, Alex Colome, Ryan Webb, Danny Farquhar, Enny Romero, Steve Geltz, Dana Eveland. Pirates — TBA
Odorizzi gets his final tuneup before his season debut next week, and relievers battling for the last spots in the bullpen get their last chance to impress the Rays.
Friday: at Braves (Disney), 1:05. Rays — TBA; Braves — TBA; at Tigers (Lakeland), 1:05. Rays —Matt Moore; Tigers — TBA
Start of regular season
Sunday: Season opener vs. Blue Jays, Tropicana Field, 4:05. Rays — Chris Archer; Jays — Marcus Stroman
Monday: vs. Jays, 7:10. Rays — Drew Smyly; Jays — R.A. Dickey
Tuesday: vs. Jays, 7:10. Rays — Jake Odorizzi; Jays — Aaron Sanchez
Wednesday: vs. Jays, 1:10. Rays — Matt Moore; Jays — J.A. Happ