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How Rays’ Kevin Cash and Pirates’ Derek Shelton shared a laugh on ‘opening day’

The two managers were supposed to face off in Shelton’s debut at Tropicana Field on Thursday.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash has a found a reason to smile today even without the Rays playing their season opener. [Times]

ST. PETERSBURG — Not being at Tropicana Field on Thursday for the Rays’ season opener against the Pirates was weird for manager Kevin Cash.

Also odd. And sad.

Along with probably a few other words he didn’t say as baseball, like just about all the rest of the sports world, is paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: Some business as usual for Rays with 7 roster cuts

But Cash, who was spending most of the day on the patio of his St. Petersburg home while his wife, Emily, oversaw their three kids’ virtual school classes, did have a reason to smile.

Cash said he had a lighthearted exchange with Pirates counterpart Derek Shelton, the former Rays coach who was to make his big-league managerial debut with a number of relatives and friends on hand.

“We have a good relationship (and) exchanged text messages today: “What’s your lineup? I’ll send my lineup over when you send yours,'" Cash said.

“I guess it’s good to find a little humor in this. It’s challenging when you’re watching TV or reading the newspaper and Internet. So that put a smile on my face, but then at the same time just some sadness.”

Shelton, who is self-isolating at his Treasure Island home, joked a couple hours later he was still waiting for Cash’s lineup.

Like Cash, he said he was trying not to get too caught up in what might happen while waiting for official word on when the season might resume.

“I was very excited to open the season against the Rays and in a place where I have so many fond memories and so many close friends,’’ Shelton said. "And the chance to be in front of my family and friends.’’

Cash also joked that it’s better for all parties that he stay out of the way when middle school daughters Camden and Ella and first-grade son J.D. are doing their digital school work.

“All I’m going to do is mess that up,” he said. “The school systems have done a pretty amazing job on the fly. My oldest girls have been in school basically from 9:30-2 the last couple days and J.D. ... if we can get him on there for 10 minutes we consider it a successful day.”

Actually, Cash said J.D. has been excited to be online with his teachers and classmates. But after the school work he is ready for bike riding, fishing and playing catch. “A lot of playing catch,” said Cash, adding that he is going to try and order a net so J.D. can take batting practice in the garage or something similar to keep him occupied.

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