Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays firming up plans for trip to Cuba

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Though some details are still being worked out, the Rays are getting a better sense of the whens and wheres for next week's historic trip to Cuba.

And they will address the whos today with plans to announce the bulk of the player contingent that will make the three-day trip that culminates with the 2 p.m. March 22 exhibition against the Cuban National Team.

That list will include most of their 40-man rostered players, along with OF Dayron Varona, their lone Cuban-born player. (RHP prospect Jake Faria has Cuban heritage, with his maternal grandparents from the island.)

One of the details still being worked out is the number of players who can be active, with 32-33 being discussed. LHP Matt Moore is slated to be the starter.

Based on a tentative schedule for the day before, the Rays will participate in a media conference (RHP Chris Archer, 3B Evan Longoria, manager Kevin Cash, principal owner Stuart Sternberg) along with MLB and Cuban baseball officials, then have a workout at Estadio Latinoamericano, and some players and staff will stage a kids clinic. Varona, who left the island three years ago on a boat with his mother for the chance to play pro ball, will do a media session at the stadium.

Cash said the trip has created some disruptions to the Rays' schedule and months of complex logistical issues for travel director Chris Westmoreland and PR vice president Rick Vaughn, but it still will be well worth it.

"It's been a lot of work for those people, but I think we're really going to appreciate it and enjoy it being a lot of fun for us," Cash said. "It kind of stinks that it's only going to be a 21/2-day stint, but we'll make the most of it. The President … all the politicians … me personally, I'm probably most excited to see the fans because you've heard about them."

Also, the timing is good for a break from routine at a time when spring training tends to drag.

"This will definitely recharge some guys, get them excited to go somewhere and then we'll be ready to get back home and get rolling those last 10 games heading into the season," Cash said. "I think it's actually perfect timing."

GAME DETAILS: The Rays (6-8) managed only three hits in the 5-0 loss to the Braves. … Archer worked 42/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts, throwing 72 pitches (38 strikes). Archer said he was too "passive" at the start for a second straight game and may looking into warming up longer but was pleased overall. … 1B James Loney had a double, his third of the spring. … Minor-league SS Andrew Velazquez made a nifty play to start a double play. … Nonroster RHP Mark Sappington made his fourth scoreless appearance.

JAFF TIME: Nonroster LF Jaff Decker made up for an earlier misplay with a spectacular leaping catch at the wall to rob former Rays INF Reid Brignac of what would have been a three-run homer.

"That was awesome, what a play," Cash said. "He's a gamer, man. That guy can play. It seems like every time he gets up to the plate he squares a ball up. He probably has 15 hits already this spring, it seems like (nine, for a .409 average anyway). We're lucky to have him. And we're going to keep running him out there — he likes to play."

MEDICAL MATTERS: INF/OF Steve Pearce, sidelined nearly a week with right calf tightness, increased his activity Monday, taking batting practice and ground balls in Port Charlotte. … RHP Matt Andriese, scratched from his Sunday start due to abdominal muscle soreness, is slated to throw off the mound today. … Video coordinator Chris "Chico" Fernandez was released from the hospital Sunday night after having tests but was still not feeling well, Cash said.

MISCELLANY: The first major reduction of the now 64-man roster is expected today. … RHP David Carpenter, signed last week to a minor-league deal after being released by the Braves, is slated to make his first exhibition appearance today.

Comments
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2

UPDATE, 3:05: In an interesting move to bolster their young minor-league  talent core, the Rays have reportedly struck a deal with Jelfry Marte, a 16-year-old Dominican who originally signed with the Twins for $3-million but had his contract voi...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays make another small deal, acquiring INF Ryan Schimpf

Tampa Bay Rays make another small deal, acquiring INF Ryan Schimpf

The Rays made another small move to add infield depth on Tuesday, acquiring Ryan Schimpf from the Padres for minor league infielder Deion Tansel.Schimpf, 29, has played parts of the last two seasons in the majors, posting just a .195 average but with...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

Could the Yankees’ new Death Star prompt a Rays surrender?

I have a theory that Major League Baseball is always way more interesting when the New York Yankees are good.Well, the Yankees got way better in the past few days.But baseball didn’t get more interesting. It got way worse.And it could get worse in Ta...
Updated: 4 hours ago
MLB ump Dale Scott retires rather than risk more concussions

MLB ump Dale Scott retires rather than risk more concussions

LAKE BUENA VISTA — As a big league umpire, Dale Scott saw maybe 1 million pitches from the field. His final call, it turned out, was the easiest of all. Rather than risk yet another concussion, Scott has decided to retire at 58. "I’m done," he told T...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Tampa Bay Rays make a small deal, acquire INF Joey Wendle

While continuing discussions on bigger topics, the Rays made a small deal Monday, acquiring INF Joey Wendle from the A's for a player to be named later or cash.Wendle, 27, spent part of the last two seasons in the majors, hitting .266 over 36 games. ...
Published: 12/11/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

UPDATE, 6:14: The Rays continued talks with no major moves seemingly close, but did make a small deal, acquiring INF Joey Wendle from the A's. Wendle, 27, has spent parts of the last two seasons in the majors, hitting .266 in 36 games. He is a lefty ...
Published: 12/11/17
Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays made a small deal Monday in acquiring INF Joey Wendle from Oakland while continuing to discuss bigger ones that seem likely to eventually lead to the trade of closer Alex Colome and then others.The Rockies and Mets joined ...
Published: 12/11/17
Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The latest obstacle keeping the Rays from contending in the American League East loomed even larger Monday afternoon in pinstripes.The Yankees’ formal introduction of Giancarlo Stanton also could be an accelerant to the departure o...
Published: 12/11/17
Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash was first up in the media room at the winter meetings today and here are a few up the more interesting things he said:* On trade speculation regarding their veterans such as Chris Archer and Evan Longoria: "I know there is a l...
Published: 12/11/17
Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria considers his future with the Rays "somewhere in limbo" based on speculation he could be traded as part of a cost-cutting and rebuilding movement."I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria told the Tampa Ba...
Published: 12/11/17