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Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: Awards for ex-Ray Carl Crawford, James Shields' extra trips, several Rays play out of position

Awards of the day

Former Rays and current Red Sox LF Carl Crawford was presented his 2010 Rays MVP and Paul C. Smith Champion awards, given by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. It was the third time he'd won the MVP award, second for the champion award. "I took a lot of pride in what I did, so whenever you guys award me, I'm very appreciative," Crawford said.

Return trip of the day

RHP James Shields made two trips from his Clearwater home to Tampa on Monday and didn't even pitch. He made the midafternoon drive, realized he forgot his gear, then went back in heavy rain and had just returned to Tampa when he was told of the cancellation. "I was panicking," he said.

Hello and goodbye of the spring

The Rays played in the first game at the Orioles' renovated Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on March 1 and played in the Red Sox's last game at City of Palms Park on Tuesday. Boston is set to move into a new facility next spring near the Fort Myers airport. The Rays "closed" two other spring parks, in Winter Haven and St. Petersburg's Al Lang Field. "We can do that," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've closed a few barrooms, too."

Disguise of the day

Class A Hudson Valley manager Jared Sandberg gets credit for creativity — tapped for bench coach duty in Fort Myers with Dave Martinez at the Tropicana Field workout, Sandberg pulled on a fake beard right before the first pitch. "He definitely gets what we're all about," manager Joe Maddon said. "I kinda liked it."

Reassignments of the day

In Fort Myers, the Rays had usual bullpen coach Bobby Ramos working at third base. "We tried to simplify the signs," manager Joe Maddon said. "We went through the Cliff Notes version. … He's animated (at third), and he's got one of the better waddles. … He's kind of like an older penguin, a penguin that gets plenty of fish." At the Trop, 3B coach Tom Foley played shortstop and hitting coach Derek Shelton second in the simulated game, with LHP David Price in the outfield.

Rays vs. Blue Jays

When/where: 4:10 today; Tropicana Field

Tickets: $10, general admission to all lower-level areas but Home Plate and Whitney Bank clubs. Available via raysbaseball.com, stadium, team Tampa store, Ticketmaster outlets.

Radio: 620-AM

Gates open: 2:40 p.m.

Parking: $10, lots open at 10.

Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS)

Pitchers: Rays — RHP Jeff Niemann, Andy Sonnanstine, Kyle Farnsworth; Jays — LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, TBA

Who is this Ray?

He grew up a big fan of former big-league OF David Justice. He was drafted by the Dodgers out of high school but didn't sign. He majored in sociology in college. He has a French bulldog named Astro. He is one of the most active Rays on Twitter.

Heads-up

This will be the first game action on the new AstroTurf surface at the Trop; initial reviews have been positive but that it plays a tad slow.

Regular season

Friday: vs. Orioles, 7:10. Rays — LHP David Price; O's — RHP Jeremy Guthrie

Who is this Ray answer: LHP David Price

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: Awards for ex-Ray Carl Crawford, James Shields' extra trips, several Rays play out of position 03/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 9:32pm]

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