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Don Zimmer's visit to the clubhouse and appearance on the field in a golf cart during introductions to officially start his 66th year in baseball was a highlight moment for many of the Rays. Zimmer, the team's 83-year-old senior adviser, has been in and out of the hospital and will soon be having an undisclosed procedure.

"I know he's not feeling that well — we totally believe he's going to get better — so to see him out there was kind of inspirational to all of us," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's pretty impressive when a guy's hurting like that for him to show up and be part of the first-day festivities."

Third baseman Evan Longoria said he considers any time they have with Zimmer, given his wealth of knowledge, to be a blessing. "I was just happy to see him out there," he said. "Having been here the past seven years I've seen kind of the slow progression — he can't really walk anymore — so it's tough to see but at the same time being able to have him here is awesome."

Tidbits from opening day

• Announced attendance for Monday's sellout, after the latest reduction due to Trop renovations, was 31,042. The 1998 inaugural game in the same building drew 45,369. It was the ninth straight home opener the Rays have sold out.

• With Monday's addition of a banner to commemorate their 2013 AL wild-card win, the Rays now have five hanging over leftfield.

• Six Rays were active for their first opening day in the big leagues: Chris Archer, Logan Forsythe, Brandon Gomes, Brandon Guyer, Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers. "Definitely woke up more excited than normal," Gomes said.

• There were a few opening day glitches, including a message on a video board touting Saturday's giveaway of a bobblehead for the 2013 AL rookie of the year but misspelling his name as "Wil Meyers."

• Any babies born Monday at Bayfront Hospital's Baby Place will receive a Rays gift package today from RHP Heath Bell and INF Sean Rodriguez plus a certificate for four tickets to all future Rays home openers.

SETTING THE TONE 03/31/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2014 10:36pm]
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