Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays relieved to be headed back to the Trop this week

NEW YORK — After more than a week of worry, uncertainty and adjusting on a daily basis due to Hurricane Irma, the Rays were quite pleased Tuesday to get final word they are indeed headed home after this afternoon's finale to the series with the Yankees that was relocated from Tropicana Field to the Mets' Citi Field.

And further, they are fully expected to resume their normal schedule, hosting the Red Sox this weekend at the Trop as planned, or close enough to it pending approval from St. Petersburg and Pinellas County officials. The primary remaining issue regards safe passage around the stadium tied to restoration of power to traffic lights that have been out, and Duke Energy is aiming to have full service in Pinellas by Friday night.

While no players or staff were said to sustain major damage to their homes, there is concern and curiosity about whether they have power, how much cleanup may be necessary, how their cars fared, things like that.

Getting back reasonably early tonight then having Thursday off and some free time Friday morning will help them deal with those issues, plus help the community overall get back to some semblance of normalcy.

It certainly was a much better option than the ones considered previously, such as heading to another neutral site (since they couldn't have stayed in New York due to hotel space) or, worse, having to go back to Boston to play there. (At the least, they should have then demanded the home clubhouse so the Sox could deal with the cramped visiting quarters.)

"We're going home, so good news," Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the Yankees. "We've got a lot of people, not just players, but our entire traveling party I would imagine is excited to get back home, assess the situation, what's taken place. And be supportive in whatever way, whether it's playing a game or reaching out in the community or whatever.

"I know guys want to get home, and I'm right there with them."

With at least half the traveling party having their families with them, getting home, in whatever shape home is, will have assorted benefits. Player rep Chris Archer said that sentiment was clear in a brief team meeting held before batting practice.

"It's not going to be the most ideal scenario with potential power outages and flooding and things of that nature," Archer said. "But it'll be nice to get some new clothes and some new underwear. And to be home, to check on our property to make sure everything is good."

The Rays are planning to start the Red Sox series as scheduled on Friday night and seem certain there will be baseball this weekend at the Trop, which didn't sustain any major damage.

There could be a scenario where area officials ask for more time. If so, the Rays could push the games back with a doubleheader on Saturday or Sunday or even into Monday's mutual off day. They'd view that as not much different than when games are in flux due to weather issues in Boston.

"The Red Sox are coming, (MLB) is expecting us to play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and we are expecting to play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. "We all know that stuff happens, as happens all through baseball for 100 years."

Talking outside the Rays/Mets clubhouse before the game, Sternberg said he felt the organization weathered the unfortunate situation well.

He specifically cited decisions to charter a larger plane so players and staff could bring their families along to escape before the storm hit, and in closing the team offices last Thursday so other employees could take precautions.

"In retrospect, I wouldn't have changed a thing," he said.

Treading carefully to not sound insensitive given the damage elsewhere and what could have been in the Tampa Bay area, Sternberg did say what others have been thinking, that the worrying about the storm impacted how the Rays played over the past week in losing four of five. As a result, they went into play four games — and six teams — from the second American League wild-card spot held currently by the Twins, making it not impossible but certainly unlikely they can make up that much ground with 16 games left.

"The one issue I do think, and not incorrectly, that players and staff were focused on what was going on in St. Petersburg and Tampa, where they live," he said.

"They were concerned, and that certainly affected everybody, but that's understandable. It's unfortunate, but it's understandable.

"Instead of walking into the clubhouse and seeing baseball games on TV and ESPN, there's storm coverage. It creeps into you, which is perfectly acceptable and understandable.

"It's just not the best time of year for it happen, but (that's) way secondary to everything else."

He's probably right on all those points.

The worry over massive damage likely did impact their play. It is unfortunate that a major distraction would take place during the September stretch run. And it still is way, way, way secondary to what really mattered.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Comments
World Series 2018: How the Red Sox got back to being likeable

World Series 2018: How the Red Sox got back to being likeable

BOSTON — As early as it was, the April 8 loss in Boston was arguably the toughest of the Rays season, at least until the toe-tagging Sept. 20 implosion in Toronto.In the wreckage of the mess made by Matt Andriese and Alex Colome that frigid...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
World Series 2018: Red Sox, Dodgers and a series 102 years in the making

World Series 2018: Red Sox, Dodgers and a series 102 years in the making

TAMPA — This is a World Series you can sink your teeth into, baseball's chance to win the midterms. The Dodgers and Red Sox and their stories histories convened Tuesday night at Fenway Park, a scant 102 years since they last met in the Fall Cla...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays have deal in place to sign prospect Sandy Gaston

Rays have deal in place to sign prospect Sandy Gaston

UPDATE, 10:25: The sides have agreed to terms on a $2.61 million deal, pending a physical exam, which is standard, and finalization of the contract.DEVELOPING: The Rays are working to complete a deal to sign RHP Sandy Gaston, a 16-year-old from Cuba ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays coach Charlie Montoyo interviewing for Blue Jays job

Rays coach Charlie Montoyo interviewing for Blue Jays job

Rays bench coach Charlie Montoyo has emerged as a candidate for the Blue Jays managerial job and is in Toronto today for an interview.Montoyo is competing with, among others, Rays colleague Rocco Baldelli, who last week was reported to be among a gro...
Updated: 9 hours ago
World Series: Red Sox will give Dodgers early dose of lefties

World Series: Red Sox will give Dodgers early dose of lefties

BOSTON — The Red Sox feel going with two lefties to start the World Series against the Dodgers is the right move.With LHP Chris Sale over the stomach issues he still, smirkingly, says were caused by a belly button ring and set to start Tuesday ...
Published: 10/22/18
World Series: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remains a Red Sox hero

World Series: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remains a Red Sox hero

BOSTON — The Dodgers already had plenty to yell about, and to toast, when they gathered in the bar of Milwaukee's Pfister Hotel late Saturday to continue the celebration of their National League championship.But as a quick clip from the ALCS 14...
Published: 10/22/18
World Series: Viewing Dodgers-Red Sox through a Tampa Bay prism

World Series: Viewing Dodgers-Red Sox through a Tampa Bay prism

BOSTON — This World Series has plenty. Two iconic franchises in the Dodgers and Red Sox. Two museum-quality venues in Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park. A historic first pairing of minority managers, in Puerto Rican born Alex Cora and bi-racial Da...
Published: 10/22/18

Dodgers to get an early dose of lefties

BOSTON ó The Red Sox feel going with two lefties to start the World Series against the Dodgers is the right move.With LHP Chris Sale over the stomach issues he still, smirkingly, says were caused by a belly button ring and set to start tonightís open...
Published: 10/22/18
World Series Game 1 to be cold one for Dodgers, Red Sox

World Series Game 1 to be cold one for Dodgers, Red Sox

BOSTON ó Itís looking to be cold for Game 1 of the World Series, but at least the Red Sox and Dodgers will probably avoid the rain. Forecasts for Tuesday night call for the temperature to be around 50 for the 8:09 p.m. first pitch. It will cool off ...
Published: 10/22/18
Rays tales: Why Rocco Baldelli is a hot candidate for manager openings

Rays tales: Why Rocco Baldelli is a hot candidate for manager openings

(Updated Monday morning)ST. PETERSBURG — Rocco Baldelli has sure been popular this off-season.And busy.The current Rays coach and former outfielder interviewed with five of the six teams looking to hire a manager — the Angels, Blue Jays, ...
Published: 10/20/18
Updated: 10/22/18