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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)
New Rays catcher Mike Zunino takes swings in batting practice Monday. (MARC TOPKIN | Times)
Published Feb. 11, 2019

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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  2. Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Nick Anderson (70) likes to live for the day, as evidenced by his lack of spring training or season accommodations before arriving in Port Charlotte. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
  3. In this August 2019 file photo, Tampa Bay Rays broadcaster Rich Hollenberg, left, leans in along with guest Dante Bichette, center, as fellow broadcaster Orestes Destrade, right, takes a selfie of them together during the Fox Sports Sun pregame show before the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. DIRK SHADD   |   Times [DIRK SHADD   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  4. Charlotte Stone Crabs shortstop Wander Franco (1) practices his swing in the dugout during the game against Clearwater Threshers on Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Clearwater.  ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
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  5. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, shown earlier in camp, has been working on tweaking his delivery. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  6. Wander Franco throws to first during the spring training game between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park on Thursday. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Tampa Bay Rays]
  7. Wander Franco taking ground balls before his first big-league spring game with the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, with Willy Adames behind him. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  8. Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez (63) throws after reporting for spring training baseball camp Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
  9. Tim Tebow, playing then for the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League, has a laugh while answering questions during a news conference at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Aug. 10, 2017. [Tampa Bay Times]
  10. Jose Alvarado retires only one of the five batters he faces in his spring debut Wednesday. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  11. Joan Steinbrenner threw out the first pitch to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada in 2008 when Legends Field was renamed in honor of her husband George. Mr. Steinbrenner passed away two years later, and Mrs. Steinbrenner died in 2018. [Times]
  12. Wander Franco  is slated to play in his first big-league exhibition games, coming off the bench on Thursday in Port Charlotte, then starting Friday in West Palm Beach against the Nationals. [ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times]
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