What you need to know about the Rays’ season opener

Who is pitching, where to watch and listen, what's ahead — and what's different — about this opening day and season.
With the stands empty, Tampa Bay Rays players take to the field to play an intersquad scrimmage game during spring training 2.0 at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.
With the stands empty, Tampa Bay Rays players take to the field to play an intersquad scrimmage game during spring training 2.0 at Tropicana Field on Tuesday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published July 24, 2020|Updated July 24, 2020

Tonight: vs. Blue Jays

6:40, Tropicana Field

TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 95.3-FM, 96.1-FM (Spanish), 620-AM

Rays info: 1-888-326-7297

Probable pitchers

Rays: RH Charlie Morton (16-6, 3.05 in 2019). Morton makes the first opening day start of his 13-year career. Had career highs in wins, innings (194 2/3) and strikeouts (240) last season, his first with Rays. Led majors with .179 average with runners in scoring position.

Related: For Charlie Morton, opening-day start is an honor, a shame and more

Blue Jays: LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-5, 2.32 in 2019). Ryu signed a four-year, $80 million contract to be the Jays’ ace after six years with the Dodgers. Led majors in ERA and fewest walks per nine innings (1.18) last season while making first All-Star team.

On deck

Saturday: vs. Jays, 3:10. Rays, LH Ryan Yarbrough (11-6, 4.13); Jays, RH Matt Shoemaker (3-0, 1.57)

Sunday: vs. Jays, 1:10. Rays, TBD; Jays, TBA

Monday: vs. Braves, 6:40. Rays, RH Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 1.78); Braves, TBA

Tuesday: vs. Braves, 6:40. Rays, TBA, Braves, TBA

Wednesday: at Braves, 7:10. Rays, TBA; Braves, TBA

Thursday: at Braves, 7:10. Rays, TBA; Braves, TBA

Related: Why Kevin Cash is more important to the Rays than ever

Injured list

LH Colin Poche, left elbow ligament tear, 45-day, out for season

OF Austin Meadows, positive COVID-19 test, return TBA

OF Randy Arozarena*, positive COVID-19 test, return TBA

* Minor-league injured list

For openers

Normally opening day is filled with pomp and circumstance. Teams are introduced along the baselines, logos are painted on the field, a somewhat famous person sings the anthem and another person with a familiar name throws out the ceremonial first pitch. Rays officials said Thursday that they were still working out the plans for what, if any, of those type of things would be included tonight. One thing we can tell you: there is the usual ceremonial bunting hanging in the Trop. … The Rays are 11-11 in season openers, 8-7 when at home. … They have opened at home against the Blue Jays four times previously, going 2-2. … This is the 11th straight year the Rays open at home, the longest active streak among AL teams (Reds, 30 straight).

Some of what’s different in 2020

• The season has been shortened to 60 games, about 37 percent of the usual 162-game slate.

• Teams are playing only against their division and the corresponding geographical division in the other league, so for Rays AL and NL East.

• Rosters will have 30 players to start the season, then be reduced after two weeks to 28 and two more weeks to 26, the original planned limit.

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• Fans are not allowed in the Trop, at least at the start of the season. There are plans, depending on the coronavirus situation, to host 5,000-7,000 a game later in the season.

• Fake fan noise, created from recordings of actual crowds and adapted for, then from, the MLB The Show video game will be played, along with more music and sound effects.

• Most weekday home games start at 6:40 p.m., moved up from 7:10 as in the past. All 60 games will be shown by Fox Sports Sun.

• For extra-inning games, each team will start with a runner on second base. The runner is the batter who made the last out of the previous inning or a pinch-runner.

• All pitchers must face a minimum of three batters, expect for injury or illness.

• The designated hitter will be used in both leagues.

• Injured list stays are 10 days for all players (shortened from 15 for pitchers), and the long-term list is 45 days, down from 60.

• Games halted due to weather before becoming official will be resumed at a later date, not started over.