PORT CHARLOTTE — With the Rays set to open their exhibition season today, manager Joe Maddon joked that he might have trouble sleeping Thursday.
But as much as the games are more about process, repetitions and evaluation, he did note that spring success has some value.
"Normally when the Rays do well in spring training, we do have a good season," he said. "That normally seems to follow, so keeping that part of it in mind … when we do well here, we do well there. So, we'll see."
Most of the regulars will starttoday, but they'll play only three or so innings, with reserves and then minor-leaguers to follow. "Three shifts,'' Maddon said.
The planned lineup: David DeJesus, lf; Yunel Escobar, ss; James Loney, 1b; Evan Longoria, 3b; Matt Joyce, DH; Wil Myers, rf; Desmond Jennings, cf; Jose Molina, c; Logan Forsythe, 2b.
2B Ben Zobrist won't play until early next week. The Rays are being cautious because he missed the first week of workouts with a sore and tight back. The pitchers similarly will have light duty, limited for the most part to an inning the first time out.
ARCHED UP: After opting for a light bullpen session rather than batting practice Tuesday, RHP Chris Archer threw about 30 pitches to hitters Thursday, putting him on a regular five-day routine leading up to his first start Tuesday.
Working primarily on fastball command and his changeup, Archer said he got good feedback from David Price and the other starters who hung around to watch and from Zobrist, who was one of the hitters. "All in all, a good day," he said.
HAPPY JUAN: Nonroster RHP Juan Sandoval reported to camp after a delay of two weeks because of visa issues in his native Dominican Republic after re-signing late in the offseason.
"The process was a little slow," he said. "Down in the Dominican, the embassy, they have their process, and every year it's getting worse."
Sandoval, likely headed to Triple-A Durham, said he was working out regularly and throwing to hitters so he should not be far behind. He said RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, waiting since a Feb. 6 consular interview, has been doing the same: "He wants to be here. He's ready to go, too.''
He's got his MTV: OF Wil Myers was thrilled to be among the players invited to take part in the new MTV2 show Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave.
Myers has already taped a segment playing shuffleboard, and he will be executive producer for an episode. "I grew up watching MTV," he said. "It's a cool thing to be involved in."
MISCELLANY: The team is close to signing all of its pre-arbitration players, with a deadline of Sunday to agree to terms or be renewed. … Sun Sports announced it will televise 150 games, with four others carried by Fox or Fox Sports 1.
Rays spring records, with playoff seasons that followed noted: