PORT CHARLOTTE — The temperatures are expected to be chilly but the greetings warm this morning when the Rays hold their first full-squad workout.
"It's always great to get everybody out there," manager Joe Maddon said. "There's a lot of new faces, a lot of different things going on."
Maddon said he was pleased with the first four days of pitcher/catcher workouts, noticing — after a prompt from LHP David Price — the benefit of having the same group of catchers as last spring given the emphasis the Rays put on communication.
"You have the same catchers talking to a lot of the same pitchers, which makes it somewhat easier," he said. "They've been through this over the last year. So that's kind of different for us."
As part of his welcoming greeting, Maddon will stress the Rays' plans for a slow pace given the additional week of camp as a result of the World Baseball Classic.
"With the extra time, just build into it," he said. "Don't try to go nuts too soon."
Maddon said he expected all 65 players to be on hand. The only three who didn't report early were SS Yunel Escobar, minor-league INF Hak-Ju Lee and DH Luke Scott.
BOSS TALK: Asked on 620-AM radio during Saturday's FanFest how the stadium stalemate ends, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said: "We're staying in Tampa Bay. We're not going anywhere. I've always been clear about that, I want to remain clear about that. We'll figure out a way to get something done."
Sternberg also said Price "has got at least three more seasons with us" and they'd be open to a contract extension but it "has got to be something that works for both sides"; that whether prospect OF Wil Myers opens the season in the majors is up to executive VP Andrew Friedman; and that season ticket sales are about the same as last year.
CHECKING IN: RHP Dane De La Rosa said he was glad to finally be in camp after spending five days in limbo between being designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A Durham after clearing waivers, then delayed a few more days to get shipping of his car rescheduled.
De La Rosa said he wasn't that surprised to be dropped from the 40-man roster and "didn't take it personally at all." The worst part of the experience, he said, was waiting at home in California: "That's the hardest thing when you know everyone else is there already."
1B/OF Shelley Duncan also reported, saying he was excited to join the Rays (on a minor-league deal) and didn't make much of his villainous role on the Yankees side of the now infamous 2008 spring dust-up. "I didn't know what anyone thought of it," he said.
PRICE IS RIGHT: Price is hosting a second Bowl For Kids' Sake fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters, the group that provides adult mentors to Tampa Bay area children facing adversity. The top 30 fundraisers (with a minimum of $1,000 in donations) are eligible to attend Price's VIP bowling party on March 29. To join, see the bbbsfl.org or call Amy Hollington at 813-769-3636.
MISCELLANY: RHP Joel Peralta's stiff neck improved enough for him to play long toss, and he could throw his first bullpen today. He still had not spoken with Dominican officials to make official his withdrawal from the WBC. … There were the usual big crowds for the free FanFest at the Trop.