Happiest place homecoming
Monday's game was a bit of a homecoming for Rays INFs Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, who grew up in the Orlando area and had family and friends in the stands. Plus, both played in youth league travel ball tournaments at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex fields and championship games at the stadium. Details were a bit fuzzy, but Miller remembered homering (and playing against Rays minor-league RHP Ryan Garton) and Franklin said he pitched, throwing a knuckleball. "It was always a big deal to get to play here," Miller said.
Hey, I know you …
Among familiar faces at the game were ex-Rays INF Reid Brignac and LHP Alex Torres, who are in camp with the Braves, and INF Kelly Johnson. Also, occasionally controversial former Braves and Rays LHP John Rocker, who was making an appearance on behalf of a radio station. And Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and bounced it.
The dish Rays vs. Phillies
When/where: 1:05 today; Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte
Radio: raysbaseball.com (signup required)
Tickets: See below
Gates open: 11 a.m.
Directions: Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: Interstate 75 South to Toledo Blade Road. Go west 6½ miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776). Go right 2 miles. Stadium complex is on left.
Parking: $10, lots open at 10
Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS)
Pitchers: Rays — Drew Smyly, David Carpenter, Ryan Webb, Xavier Cedeno, Alex Colome; Phillies — Aaron Nola, Dalier Hinojosa, Andrew Bailey, Yoervis Medina, James Russell
No. 2 starter LHP Drew Smyly makes his third spring start, having been extremely sharp thus far, allowing two hits (and no walks) in facing 17 batters in 51/3 innings.
Thursday: at Phillies (Clearwater), 1:05. Rays — Matt Moore; Phillies — TBA
Friday: vs. Red Sox, 1:05. Rays — TBA, Red Sox — TBA
Rays tickets: Range from $10-24, available at raysbaseball.com, by calling toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS), and at CSP or Tropicana Field box offices, team Tampa Store (400 N Tampa St.).
All games 1:05 p.m. unless noted.
19 vs. Orioles
20 at Orioles
22 at Cuban national team (Havana)
23 at Twins
24 at Yanks, 6:35
25 vs. Twins
26 at Pirates, 6:05
27 vs. Jays
29 at Jays
30 vs. Red Sox
31 vs. Pirates
1 at Braves, at Tigers