Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays' Cuba trip a big opportunity, and a big disruption

Spring training for the Rays this season will be interrupted by a visit to Havana, Cuba, for an exhibition game, which could cause some scheduling headaches.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Spring training for the Rays this season will be interrupted by a visit to Havana, Cuba, for an exhibition game, which could cause some scheduling headaches.

PORT CHARLOTTE

Going to Cuba for a planned March 22 exhibition will provide the Rays with a remarkable opportunity.

They will be part of a historic moment in not only sports but world politics and international relations, given the tentative plans for President Barack Obama to attend and possibly throw out the first pitch. Plus they will get the chance to sightsee, explore and experience the island, and its baseball-rich history, before tourism becomes mainstream.

But the trip can also be a major hassle in terms of disruption to schedule and routine less than two weeks before the start of the regular season. And it will surely cause some personal inconveniences, a few players already voicing their preference to not go.

Major League Baseball is doing what it can to make it worth the Rays' while by paying each player who goes a stipend, said to be $10,000 a man.

And the players union is working diligently on the details, seeking to reduce the potential issues and concerns by dealing with issues such as field and stadium conditions, safety and transportation. Union chief Tony Clark said the goal is making the trip "as comfortable and as less invasive as possible."

Just the schedule alone can cause problems, as the Rays have to decide which players may be better served by getting more work, or certainly any medical treatment, by staying home.

Under the latest plan, they would head out on two flights on Sunday, March 20, one mid-day and another with most of the players after their game in Sarasota.

With the potential that last-minute field improvements will be needed at Havana's Estadio Latinoamericano, they may not be able to work out Monday nor do too much before the Tuesday afternoon game. And they won't get back to Port Charlotte (via a flight to Tampa) until late Tuesday night, with a game scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Fort Myers.

So among the scheduling questions are whether to take the pitchers who worked the Sunday game or those who are slated to throw Monday and Wednesday; and to make sure they have adequate backup along, especially if the field proves to still be a concern.

"I know full well what something like this does and the adjustment that it may force guys to make in their preparation for the season," Clark said. "And I don't take it lightly."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: The team so values its No. 13 pick in the upcoming draft that it might take free agent SS Ian Desmond going with the Andre Dawson/'87 Cubs "blank check" to get signed. … RHP Chris Archer was 12th and CF Kevin Kiermaier 22nd on an espn.com ranking of MLB's "best assets" — based on projected performance and contract terms/status. … One ripple in roster-guessing and setting is that with six off days in the first five weeks, the Rays could keep an extra reliever or position player, including a third catcher. … Bovada online odds have the Rays at a division-high 9-1 to win the AL East, the Red Sox are 8-5 favorites. … For what it's worth, LHP Drew Smyly ranked fifth on an mlbtraderumors.com projection, albeit extensively researched, of pitchers at greatest risk to need Tommy John elbow surgery. … Baseball operations president Matt Silverman on manager Kevin Cash's spring opening address: "It was Kevin being Kevin — direct, succinct, straightforward and full of energy and positivity." … Clark called the Rays a young team that is "always interested and asking a lot of questions, which is good."

Roster report

The second of our weekly guesses at the makeup of the opening day roster:

Pitchers (12): Chris Archer, Brad Boxberger, LH Xavier Cedeno, Alex Colome, Danny Farquhar, Steve Geltz, LH Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, LH Enny Romero, LH Drew Smyly, Ryan Webb

Catchers (2): Curt Casali, Rene Rivera

Infielders (6): Tim Beckham, Logan Forsythe, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Steve Pearce

Outfielders/DH (5): Corey Dickerson, Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr.

DL (2): RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Chase Whitley

Roster report

The second of our weekly guesses at the makeup of the opening day roster:

Pitchers (12): Chris Archer, Brad Boxberger, LH Xavier Cedeno, Alex Colome, Danny Farquhar, Steve Geltz, LH Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi, Erasmo Ramirez, LH Enny Romero, LH Drew Smyly, Ryan Webb

Catchers (2): Curt Casali, Rene Rivera

Infielders (6): Tim Beckham, Logan Forsythe, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Steve Pearce

Outfielders/DH (5): Corey Dickerson, Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr.

DL (2): RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Chase Whitley

Rays' Cuba trip a big opportunity, and a big disruption 02/27/16 [Last modified: Saturday, February 27, 2016 10:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Nature Coast puts unbeaten streak on the line vs. IMG White

    Footballpreps

    BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast currently rides a 22-game regular-season win streak, but first-year football coach Cory Johns was not around for any of those wins. Neither was most of his coaching staff. This is an entirely new campaign with new obstacles ahead.

    Nature Coast offensive lineman Louis Miele (66) blocks a Sunlake defensive player during the Clash 4 Clayton football scrimmage and fundraiser at Springstead High School Spring Hill, Fla. on Saturday, August 12, 2017.
  2. Crosstown rivals Bloomingdale-Newsome kick off season

    Footballpreps

    LITHIA — In a week filled with area football rivalries, there is a game on the east side of Hillsborough County — Bloomingdale vs. Newsome — that has matured into a classic crosstown battle, complete with classic cliches.

    Bloomingdale wide receiver Ed Amos charges through a drill a few days before the big rivalry game against Newsome on Friday night.
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch

    Footballpreps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  5. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    During a 20-minute team meeting Tuesday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter decided to turn the discussion to social issues and whether players are expected to stand for the national anthem.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]