PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays officials will be more than just casual observers as they have five players participating in the next round of World Baseball Classic games that start tonight.
INF/OF Ben Zobrist is playing for the United States team, closer Fernando Rodney for the Dominican Republic, C Jose Molina for Puerto Rico, LHP Cesar Ramos for Mexico and LHP Alex Torres for Venezuela.
Injury is obviously the Rays' biggest worry, but so is workload, specifically that they don't get overused in the games, especially the pitchers, and they get enough repetitions in before the games.
"Sometimes I think the concern is that they're going to play too much or pitch too much, but actually I think the concern is just the opposite, that they don't play enough, they don't get enough at-bats, they don't get enough innings, enough consistent work," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
"That's the greater concern right now. I think the ultimate concern is injury, but I don't really focus on that as much as them getting their work in."
The players, who left camp earlier this week to join their national teams, could be gone a while. Pool play extends through this weekend, with second-round games March 12-16 in Miami and the semifinals and finals March 17-19 in San Francisco.
PITCHING IN: RHP Alex Cobb starts today against the Pirates in Bradenton, having had one rough outing this spring and one good one.
"It's kind of been the opposite ends of the spectrum," Cobb said. "So I think the third outing will be kind of more telling where I'm at with my consistency and delivery and being able to make adjustments. But I do feel really good. Honestly, every outing I've thrown, dating back to the first bullpen through live BP have been really good. There was that one blip in there in that first game, but I think I'm back on track and made the right adjustments. So I'm looking forward to seeing what the third one's going to bring."
COMMUNITY SERVICE: Maddon, players Chris Archer, Tim Beckham, Jeremy Hellickson, Desmond Jennings and Jose Lobaton, and the coaching staff will attend the fifth annual Rays BaseBALL Dinner & Auction benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County on Friday at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center in Punta Gorda. For tickets, call (941) 979-8379. … Cobb, Dane De La Rosa, Jake McGee and Sean Rodriguez will represent the Rays on the runway Saturday in the 10th annual Veredus Fashion Funds the Cure event, benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. For tickets, see fastercure.org or call (813) 269-0955.