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Tampa Bay Rays pack heavy for move to new spring facility

It took a lot of work, and a lot of thought, by home clubhouse/equipment manager Chris Westmoreland last week to actually move the Rays spring training base to their shiny new facility in Port Charlotte.

"This was all new to us," he said.

For example, figuring out how much stuff to take, how to get it there (two 26-foot trucks) and where to put it when they pulled in Tuesday. For 11 years, they simply took the basics crosstown from Tropicana Field to the Naimoli complex (then to Progress Energy Park) and ran back over for whatever they needed. But with 80 miles, traffic and a big bridge now between them and the Trop, they brought everything they could possibly need, and then some, including the uniforms for the regular-season-opening road trip.

For example, having to line up new vendors for food, goods and services, and ordering things like 59 trash cans and brackets to hold the nameplates on the custom-designed lockers.

For example, bringing extra baseballs (700 dozen total) because three of the complex fields are bordered by lakes, and there's no way to know how many they'll lose during batting practice.

By Friday evening, Westmoreland felt pretty good about things, pronouncing the facility ready to go.

"Overall, it's kind of bittersweet," he said. "St. Pete has been good to us for 11 seasons, and it was obviously very convenient. But on the sweet side, this stadium and facility are state of the art. I think it's the best I've ever seen. It's really big-league, that's for sure."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: After being on top the past two years, the Rays dropped to fourth (behind Texas, Florida and Oakland) in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook talent rankings. … BA's top five Rays prospects: LHP David Price, SS Tim Beckham, RHP Wade Davis, SS Reid Brignac, OF Desmond Jennings. … Beckham, who just turned 19, is among the 20 nonroster invitees to major-league camp as part of the contract he signed as the top pick in last year's draft. … Scott Kazmir's charity poker tournament Friday at the Sarasota Kennel Club raised $16,000 for Children's Dream Fund. … J.P. Howell and Andy Sonnanstine are guests as the Hot Stove radio show debuts at 7 p.m. Monday on 620-AM, hosted by Andy Freed and Dave Wills live from International Plaza. … Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo will be a coach (as will ex-Ray Eduardo Perez) for the Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic team, which plays the Rays in Port Charlotte on March 4. … Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, whose company owns the new Stone Crabs Class A affiliate, will attend the April 9 opener in Port Charlotte.

Tampa Bay Rays pack heavy for move to new spring facility 02/07/09 [Last modified: Sunday, February 8, 2009 7:13am]

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