ST. PETERSBURG – RHP Ryan Weber couldn't stop smiling Friday.
And why not?
A St. Petersburg native who played at Clearwater Catholic High and then St. Petersburg College and still lives in the area, Weber was working out with other Rays teammates at the Trop, the first steps, he hopes, toward pitching this season for his hometown team.
Weber, 27, has pitched in 22 big-league games over parts of three seasons with the Braves and Mariners, but never at Tropicana Field, where he came hundreds of times as a fan.
So when the Rays offered a minor-league contract with a spring invite, he leapt at the opportunity telling his agent to say yes immediately.
"This is where I first saw a big-league game, telling my parents I'm going to be out there one day,'' he said. "So to actually have a chance to play for the Rays, that's cool. That's pretty cool.''
Weber said he'll report to camp "100 percent" after being limited to seven games last season due to a nerve issue in his right arm.
EOVALDI GOOD TO GO
RHP Nathan Eovaldi was among 10 players working out at the Trop on Friday, and said he'll report for the Feb. 14 first spring workout fully healthy after spending 2017 rehabbing form Tommy John surgery. "I'm just ready,'' he said. "I was healthy and ready to go at the end of the year last year so I went into the off-season confident, as if I was activated, with no restrictions. The off-season's been great, no issues, no little injuries, so I'm ready for spring.'' Eovaldi is aiming for a spot in the rotation, and the Rays say they have similar plans.
HECHAVARRIA ARBITRATION DECISION COMING SOON
SS Adeiny Hechavarria had his arbitration hearing in Arizona on Friday, with the three-member panel deciding between his $5.9 million request and the team's $5.35 million offer. Hechavarria, acquired in late June from the Marlins, hit .261 with eight homers, 30 RBIs and a .695 OPS in 97 games total, and played tremendous defense for the Rays. A decision should be announced Saturday. The Rays, represented by baseball operations VP James Click, also have a Feb. 12 hearing with RHP Jake Odorizzi.
* Manager Kevin Cash said Brad Miller would be considered the first baseman as of now, but could also end up back at second base if they acquire another first baseman.
* Other players at the Trop included RHPs Chris Archer, Brent Honeywell, Jake Odorizzi, Jose De Leon, Ryne Stanek; LHP Ryan Yarbrough; INFs Christian Arroyo and Micah Johnson. Workouts shift to Port Charlotte starting Monday.