MIAMI — And on the seventh day, the Rays … rested?
An odd scheduling decision left the team in an unusual position, with Sunday — the first Sunday of the season — off.
“Very, very bizarre,’' manager Kevin Cash said Saturday. “Having a Sunday off in the big leagues is just not something you see normally, and certainly being Easter Sunday.’'
The reasons are related to starting the season with an interleague opponent.
With a leaguewide opening day on Thursday, and interleague series limited to three (or in some cases two) games, the Rays and Marlins couldn’t play all four days, as some teams with intraleague opponents are doing.
With a retractable roof, there was no need to be off Friday as a potential rain makeup day for the opener, as teams with open air stadiums plan for.
So that left league officials, in consultation with the Marlins, to decide, and they opted for three straight games, then the day off. It could be for baseball reasons, in managing the bullpen. Or maybe not playing on Easter factored in.
The result is that for just the second time in 24 seasons, the Rays have a scheduled Sunday off-day. The other was by choice, as they took off Aug. 26, 2012, to allow an extra day of preparation for an event at Tropicana Field related to the Republican National Convention that was staged in Tampa. (The Giants and Mariners are also off Sunday after playing three straight.)
The Rays took advantage, staying in Miami on Saturday night before planning to fly late Sunday afternoon to Boston, where high temperatures will be in the 50s.
The Rays also have a rare Friday off this year, May 28, so a two-day interleague series with the Phillies at the Trop can be played on Saturday and Sunday.
Port Charlotte is a happening place, with more than 150 players working out daily.
That includes 28 active (and a few others) as part of the “alternate-training site” group — players who were “sent down” during spring training — and from which the Rays can supplement their roster, functioning for now like the Triple-A team.
And there are about 125 others, mostly less-advanced players, who on Saturday opened the delayed minor-league camp, with a month of workouts ahead until the rescheduled May 4 start to the season.
Workouts are split for protocol reasons, so the minor-leaguers have the morning shift, and the alt-site group the afternoon/evenings.
The Rays are working to schedule games against the two other Florida-based alternate-site teams — the Jays (Dunedin) and Marlins (Jacksonville).
Also, a replacement should be named soon for Double-A pitching coach Brian Reith, who was recently named to the big-league staff to assist coaches Kyle Snyder and Stan Boroski.
ALTERNATE TRAINING-SITE ROSTER
The alternate training-site roster, with the maximum 28 in Port Charlotte, plus four currently on the big-league taxi squad (noted with an *) after Joseph Odom was added to major-league roster:
PITCHERS (16): Stetson Allie, Chris Ellis, Dietrich Enns, Josh Fleming, Louis Head, David Hess*, Brent Honeywell, Joey Krehbiel, Chris Mazza*, Shane McClanahan, Brian Moran, Luis Patino, Trevor Richards, Yacksel Rios, Joe Ryan, Hunter Strickland
CATCHERS (5): Chris Betts, Joseph Odom*, Rene Pinto, Kevan Smith, Brett Sullivan
INFIELDERS (8): Vidal Brujan, Wander Franco, Tristan Gray, Dalton Kelly, Miles Mastrobuoni, Kevin Padlo*, Esteban Quiroz, Taylor Walls*
OUTFIELDERS (4): Ryan Boldt, Moises Gomez, Josh Lowe, Garrett Whitley.
INJURED/DEVELOPMENT LISTS: OF Nathan Lukes, LH Brendan McKay
• Michael Wacha is expected start Monday in Boston rather than pitch behind an opener, though Cash said they could revisit that. Opening-day starter Tyler Glasnow will stay on a five-day schedule and pitch Tuesday, with Ryan Yarbrough working Wednesday’s matinee road-trip finale.
• Cash continued his plan to rest position players, as outfielder Randy Arozarena, second baseman Brandon Lowe and first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo were not in the lineup.
• The Marlins had the large leftfield windows open at LoanDepot Park, but the roof closed as there was a threat of high winds, which can impact closing. Attendance was 6,179 in distanced pod seating.
• Paul Campbell, taken by the Marlins from the Rays in the minor-league Rule 5 draft, made his debut Saturday, working two innings after starter Elieser Hernandez left with inflammation in his right biceps tendon.
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