Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays entering stretch of seven consecutive day games

As the Rays begin a nine-game, three-city road trip today, they'll also have to make sure their alarms are set earlier to prepare for a stretch of seven consecutive day games.

"Get your rest boys," manager Joe Maddon quipped.

It's a unique situation, with Tampa Bay not playing under the lights until April 17 in Toronto. Part of the reason is that the Rays will be visitors for both the Red Sox home opener on Friday and the 11:05 a.m. Boston marathon day, or Patriot's Day, on Monday.

"I think it's good," RHP Jeff Niemann said. "Just coming out of spring training, everyone is still getting up early. I'd rather have them now than in the middle of the season. As long as it's not cold, you can deal with the day games."

The Rays have won their first two day games of the season, including Friday's opener, and were 14-12 in matinees last year.

1B Carlos Peña, who played his share of day games with the Cubs last season, said that though it's never easy to go from night to day game, the fact that there are so many early games in a row is helpful.

"At least we have a string of games that are day games where you could kind of try to find a nice rhythm and get nice little rest patterns going, at least for the first week and a half," Peña said. "And that's a challenge."

TOUGH TASK: The Rays will get their first look today at the Tigers' new one-two punch of slugging 1B Prince Fielder and 3B Miguel Cabrera in the heart of the order. Fielder, who signed a nine-year, $214 million deal this offseason, presents an enormous challenge, according to RHP Jeff Niemann.

"At any point in the game, he's a guy that can put the ball into the seats and do some damage," said Niemann, who starts Thursday. "That's what makes him so good, he's a threat at all times."

Fielder, a left-handed hitter who racked up at least 32 homers in each of the past five seasons, is also disciplined and "knows what you're trying to do," Niemann said.

"For a guy who is a real power guy, he doesn't have as much of a hole in his swing," said RHP Burke Badenhop, who has held Fielder to 1-for-7 in his career. "And he can drive the ball to left-center just as well as he can pull the ball out of the park."

WELCOME BACK: RHP Fernando Rodney will return to a place he knows very well, having spent his first 12 professional seasons with the Tigers organization that drafted him, saving 37 games for the club in 2009.

"I have good memories with the Tigers," Rodney said. "That's my first team, they gave me the opportunity, and I'm happy with that."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected].

Comments
What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

PORT CHARLOTTE — Going against popular opinion, here's an odd thought to ponder:What if the Rays actually know what they're doing?The deal agreed to Wednesday afternoon with veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez — one year for a, hefty for them...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

PORT CHARLOTTE — 2B Nick Solak reported to camp Wednesday, while LHP Anthony Banda, the other player acquired in the Steven Souza Jr. trade, is on his way.Banda, whose fastball hits the mid-90s, pitched in eight games last season with the Diamo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

PORT CHARLOTTE – Dick Vitale, the Rays most visible and, as of late, vocal fan, took to Twitter and the 620-AM airwaves Wednesday morning and later in the day in a phone call to the Times to blast his local baseball team.ESPN's lead college bas...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays moved quickly to fill the void created by Tuesday's trade of RF Steven Souza Jr., agreeing to a one-year deal Wednesday afternoon with veteran OF Carlos Gomez.The deal, pending a physical, will pay Gomez $4-million...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The brawls new Rays rightfielder Carlos Gomez inspired

The brawls new Rays rightfielder Carlos Gomez inspired

The Rays new rightfielder Carlos Gomez is, as the Times' Rays beat writer Marc Topkin describes him, a "somewhat emotional" player.That reputation in part comes from his role in inspiring a handful of benches-clearing brawls. Here's a look at few of ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
With Souza the latest to be gone, what do Rays have left? Well …

With Souza the latest to be gone, what do Rays have left? Well …

The first question to ask, understandably, is who do the Rays have left?And, after they Tuesday added 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. to the list of departees that had just included Corey Dickerson and Jake Odorizzi, the next to ask is what do they ha...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Another question for Rays after trading Souza: What to do with these …

Another question for Rays after trading Souza: What to do with these …

Having traded 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona, Rays baseball officials are now looking for a way to replace him on the field.And now Rays marketing officials also have to decide what to do with the spot he held in their lineup, having sched...
Published: 02/21/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Rays fire sale is on

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Rays fire sale is on

The fire sale is on for the Rays, as they trade Steven Souza, Jr., to Arizona to trim more payroll for this season.In his lastest podcast, Rick Stroud says he feels bad for Rays fans, as many of their favorite players have left the team, including Ev...
Published: 02/21/18
Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

The Rays traded right fielder Steven Souza, Jr., their 2017 team MVP, to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in a three-team deal for Arizona's No. 2 prospect, lefty Anthony Banda, Yankees infield prospect Nick Solak and two players to be named...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18
Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

PORT CHARLOTTE — Evan Longoria traded in December. Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson dumped over the weekend. Then, in a stunning move Tuesday night, 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. shipped to Arizona as part of a three-team deal that netted onl...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18