Denard Span happy to be with Rays now, would be happier March 29

Veteran Tampa product hoping he gets chance to suit up for hometown team.
Denard Span worked out for the first time with the Rays in Port Charlotte and hopes to stick around. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Denard Span worked out for the first time with the Rays in Port Charlotte and hopes to stick around. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]
Published Feb. 17, 2018|Updated Feb. 17, 2018

PORT CHARLOTTE – OF Denard Span was truly happy to be here in Rays camp on Saturday.

But the Tampa product said he'll be much happier – and more relaxed – if he actually makes it to the regular season with his hometown team.

The Rays got Span, 33, because the Giants made them take him to make the Evan Longoria trade work. And given that the Rays are looking to trim salary, and that Span makes $9-million this season, plus has a $4-million buyout on a 2019 option, he knows there is something to the chatter that he could be dealt again.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen,'' Span said.

As a result, Span has only allowed himself to think "a little bit" about standing on the first base line March 29 with his family in the Tropicana Field stands:

"I've tried not to jinx it, I guess you could say, because of the unknown. I'm just taking it one day at a time, to be honest. I think once Opening Day comes and I have this uniform on, then I think it will really hit me. But it really hasn't hit me yet because of all the rumors and speculation. It definitely is a weird feeling, to be honest, to be playing for my hometown team.''

If he sticks around, playing leftfield and DH, Span would give the Rays some needed veteran leadership, having played 10 seasons with the Twins, Nationals and Giants, and earned a five-star reputation.

"Just come in with a good attitude and come ready to work every day, and try to be a good example for a lot of young guys in this organization and pass on as much knowledge as I can,'' Span said. "I think that's my job at this point in my career. And prove that I still have something left in this young tank of mine.''

Kevin Cash's American Top 40

The Rays added a soundtrack to their workout, pop music playing from speakers on the tower between the four-field complex. It's another element to add energy and "loosen the atmosphere" during the workouts, manager Kevin Cash said, with plans to mix up the genres and allow different people make the playlists. His own would include Imagine Dragons and Eric Church.  "They invested a lot of money in those speakers,'' Cash said, "we might as well use them.''


* With INF Andrew Velazquez and OFs Denard Span and Justin Williams reporting, the Rays were just SS Adeiny Hechavarria away from a full 68-player house, with report day Sunday and the first full squad workout Monday.

* Cash praised non-roster C Brett Sullivan, a converted infielder who split last season between Class A and AA, for impressive work in throwing drills.

* RHP Chris Archer and Nathan Eovaldi asked for extra work on fielding bunts and covering first.

The dish

The Rays have opened spring training in Port Charlotte, with workouts daily at 10:30 a.m., lasting about 2 hours and continuing through Feb. 22 at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road). For more information: (941) 235-5025.