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Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro reports to camp fit and happy

PORT CHARLOTTE — Word was that C Dioner Navarro was coming to camp in good shape and a good frame of mind despite losing his arbitration case.

The Rays saw for themselves Sunday.

And they couldn't have been happier.

Navarro showed up 15 pounds lighter at about 205, the product of an offseason diet (smaller portions, no soda, lots of water) and daily workout regimen with a personal trainer, and insisting he has put the contract talk behind him and is looking forward to the team's continued success.

"We got that taste last year, we want to get back there this year and I know we're more than capable of doing it," he said. "Me being a leader, I have to prove to everybody that I'm capable of doing it, and that's what I focused on this offseason and that's what I did."

Executive VP Andrew Friedman was among those impressed. "Navi looked great," he said. "I heard all offseason about his workout program and what he was doing, and it's very evident that he's very hungry and wants to get back to where we were last year."

Navarro, 25, said the arbitration process — which still resulted in a raise from $412,500 to $2.1 million, though not the $2.5 million he sought — was enjoyable, was interesting and "was something else," but there were no lingering issues. "It was behind me right after it was over," he said. "No hard feelings."

FOR OPENERS: Sunday was the first big-league workout at the Charlotte Sports Park since the Texas Rangers' last season in 2002, and it went relatively well. Rays players were impressed with the lavish facilities, the product of the nearly $28 million extensive renovation, and crisp-looking fields.

There seemed to be only relatively minor concerns: the distance to the four practice fields, some issues getting the players from field to field through the fans and a lack of shade and, um, facilities, which will be addressed.

"There's just a couple little items we want to iron out," manager Joe Maddon said.

"I'm pretty amazed at this facility," RHP James Shields said. "Of course, you need a directory to get around. I think I got lost three times."

SMART MOVE: The clubhouse staff switched the photo at the main clubhouse entrance from Cal Ripken, whose company owns the minor-league Stone Crabs, to one of Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg holding the AL championship trophy.

MISCELLANY: Scott Kazmir is still waiting for a ruling on the Rays' attempt to block him from pitching in the World Baseball Classic: "Hopefully in the next couple days I'll have an answer." … Willy Aybar took his physical exam and his new contract — two years with a 2011 option — should be finalized today. … All 38 pitchers and catchers reported, as have 15 of the 23 position players, with the first full-squad workout Wednesday. Yet to check in: Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist (who just became a dad), Akinori Iwamura (staying in Japan for the WBC), Morgan Ensberg, Ray Olmedo, Chris Nowak and Jon Weber. … Evan Longoria missed Saturday's FanFest after having his wisdom teeth removed earlier in the week.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro reports to camp fit and happy 02/15/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 16, 2009 7:23am]
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