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Live from Port Charlotte: 40-plus Rays working out in advance of camp opening

Introductions, first impressions, a camp addition, Honeywell change up.
New Rays catcher Mike Zunino takes swings in batting practice Monday. (MARC TOPKIN | Times)
Published Feb. 11

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays don’t formally start spring training until Wednesday morning’s first session for pitchers and catchers, but there was plenty of activity Monday at the Charlotte Sports Park with around 40 players on the fields working out.

Among the news and notes:

Catcher Michael Perez said he is fully over the severe left hamstring strain that sidelined him from late August through the end of the season, and is ready to go, "100 percent.'' He planned to play winter ball for a month in Puerto Rico, but that stint was cut to a couple weeks after he got sick. Perez is slated to share catching duties with new addition Mike Zunino, who put on a solid show in batting practice.

Pitching prospect Brent Honeywell has added Jr. to his No, 59 jersey in tribute to his dad, also named Brent Lee, who pitched in the minors. “Not many people can have Jr. on the back of their jersey," he said. “This is a gift my dad gave me — he taught me how to pitch growing up. It adds some flair. I’m not really a flashy person. All the good ones did it, like Griffey.”

Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell added Jr. to his jersey in tribute to his dad, who pitched in the minors. [MARC TOPKIN | Times]

Honeywell, who expects to make his big-league debut in June after completing his rehab from Tommy John elbow surgery, said he had considered adding the Jr. during his minor-league career but wanted to wait so he can share the special moment with his father. “I wanted to wait until I got to the big leagues,” he said.

Reliever Colin Poche, acquired last May as a Double-A pitcher from Arizona, is among those getting acclimated to their first spring training in Port Charlotte. "It’s been different,'' he said. "I met a lot of guys with (Triple-A) Durham, but everything is so new, a lot of new faces, a new facility. It feels like my first spring training all over again.''

Right-hander Tyler Cloyd, who has big-league time with the Phillies (2012-13), Mariners (2017) and Marlins (2018) signed a minor-league deal with an invite to camp, expanding the roster to 66.

Some first impressions: On first glance from across the clubhouse, sitting in the same locker area, Zunino looked a bit like former Rays INF Brad Miller. ... RHP Chaz Roe showed up with his beard intact but his head shaved, a new look he said he plans to carry into the season. ... INF Joey Wendle looked in great shape. ... Free-agent OF signee Avisail Garcia is bigger and more muscular up close than you think.


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