Rays' travel director has busy couple of days with series move

The Orioles stand for the national anthem before Wednesday's game. They travel to face the Rays in three “home” games at Tropicana Field. Baltimore Sun
The Orioles stand for the national anthem before Wednesday's game. They travel to face the Rays in three “home” games at Tropicana Field.Baltimore Sun
Published April 30 2015

NEW YORK — The bags under travel director Chris Westmoreland's eyes were a telling sign of how much work it took to get the Rays headed home Wednesday night for an expected weekend series with the Orioles that was shifted to the Trop due to violence and unrest in Baltimore.

In part, that was because he didn't know until Tuesday afternoon whether the Rays were going to play in Baltimore, St. Petersburg, Washington or Philadelphia.

"They are logistical things every team deals with in a normal travel situation, except we had to deal with them in four cities — the buses and the trucks and the airlines," he said. "Trains, planes and automobiles in each of the cities."

Once the move to the Trop was set, Westmoreland canceled the hotels and transportation in the other cities and the trains he had lined up to take the Rays there.

Next was getting a Delta charter to fly the team home from New York, which took some scrambling. "The airplane was the most difficult, because finding an airplane is not like finding a taxi in New York," he said. A late-night departure was arranged, so the Rays actually went back to their Manhattan hotel rooms — which were paid for anyway — after the game, then headed to the airport at 9 p.m.

In St. Petersburg, team officials continued preparations to host three unscheduled games in which the Rays will bat first and wear gray uniforms as if they were the visitors.

"This is an incredibly unusual situation," team president Brian Auld said.

Tickets, all general admission ($15 Friday and Sunday, $18 Saturday), went on sale Wednesday, with no processing fees online. There will be a $3 discount for Orioles spring seasonticket holders.

The Orioles will get the ticket revenues and are responsible for the expenses. Auld said the Rays "will not make any money" from hosting the games, though there will be the benefit of unexpected business in and around the stadium.

"We're just trying to bring some economic development to the region," Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg quipped.

Orioles LHP Zach Britton said he would have preferred to keep the games at Camden Yards even if they had to keep it empty, as they did Wednesday, especially since the Rays aren't moving a series to Baltimore in return.

"I'd rather play at home in Baltimore without anybody in the stands than go down and play three home games in Tampa," Britton told csnbaltimore.com. "I think everyone feels the same way. This is our homefield. The thing that's frustrating is that Tampa won't compromise and come back up here. These are tough situations. You would think people have some compassion for what's going on. Apparently they don't."

ANOTHER DL MOVE: RHP Kirby Yates felt something was not right when he was sent to Triple-A Durham on April 15, and the Rays eventually agreed, announcing Wednesday they had voided his option and put him on the major-league DL with a right pectoral strain. Yates, who made three appearances at Durham in the interim, will receive major-league service time and pay, as the moved is backdated to April 15. He is the Rays' majors-high 13th player to go on the DL, matching the 2014 Rangers for most in the majors over the past 20 years.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Desmond Jennings was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game due to bursitis in his left knee and will see a doctor today in St. Petersburg. Manager Kevin Cash said they are hopeful he plays during the weekend but acknowledged having the games on turf at the Trop rather than natural grass in Baltimore, might be an issue.

LHP Jake McGee (elbow surgery) came through Tuesday's first rehab game well. "Everything was very good," Cash said. McGee will get a couple of days off ,then make the second of what will be at least three or four appearances before rejoining the Rays.

GELTZ, WITH A K: RHP Steve Geltz became the second Rays pitcher to face five (or more) batters in a game and strike them all out; RHP Joaquin Benoit fanned five in a 2010 game vs. Cleveland. It was last done in the majors by Royals RHP Luke Hochevar in September 2013.

ROSTER MOVE: RHP Matt Andriese was optioned to Triple-A Durham after the game, clearing a space for the Rays to activate RHP Alex Colome off the DL to start Friday.

MISCELLANY: RHP Grant Balfour, designated for assignment April 19, was officially released, making him free to sign with any team for the league minimum, with the Rays paying the rest of his $7 million salary. … 3B Evan Longoria's sixth-inning single was his 997th career hit. … Rays pitchers handed Alex Rodriguez his first career 0-for-6 and first 4-K day since 2008.

Times staff writer Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report.