John Romano - Sports Columnist

Sports Columnist

Finding the right career can be hit-and-miss. In my case, it was swing-and-miss. When Major League Baseball scouts declined to watch me play, or even acknowledge my existence, journalism seemed like a plausible fallback plan. I started covering prep sports for St. Petersburg's Evening Independent as an 18 year old college freshman, and have worked for newspapers ever since. I have a daughter in college, a son in high school and a wife in charge. And I still can't hit the curveball.

  1. Tampa Bay’s remarkable turnaround, which coincided with Stuart Sternberg’s purchase of the team prior to the 2006 season, got us thinking as the team completed its 25th season: Where do the Rays rank compared to the first quarter-century of other expansion teams?
  2. You think players are annoyed by pitch clocks? Think about video replay officials, like Tampa Bay's Randell Kanemaru, who might have 15 seconds or less to determine whether a close play deserves a replay challenge.
  3. Mexico's Randy Arozarena celebrates after scoring against Canada during a World Baseball Classic game earlier this month in Phoenix. “He definitely likes to put on a show,” Rays teammate Isaac Paredes said through interpreter Manny Navarro.
  4. After his opening day start last season, Shane McClanahan went 12-8 with a 2.54 ERA for the Rays. On Friday, manager Kevin Cash announced McClanahan as Tampa Bay's opening day starter again next week against Detroit.
  5. Pete Alonso's 425-foot home run was the loudest hit yielded by Luis Patino (1) on Friday, but it was not the only hard-hit ball against the Rays starter in an 11-2 loss to the Mets.
  6. Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield, pictured during his introductory news conference Monday in Tampa. Mayfield is hoping to revive his once-promising career after beginning 2022 with Cleveland, being traded to Carolina and ending up in Los Angeles after being waived.
  7. Adam Schenk tees off at the 16th hole during the Valspar Championship on Sunday at the Innisbrook Resort. He finished one shot back of the champion for his best-ever PGA Tour finish.
  8. Nick Gabrelcik, who graduated from Mitchell High in Pasco County, hits the ball off the tee on the 11th hole during the first round of the Valspar Championship at the Innisbrook Resort on Thursday.
  9. Few shortstops can match Taylor Walls with a glove, but the Rays switch hitter had very noticeable struggles at the plate in 2022. With a fresh approach after an offseason of studying video, Walls is hopeful of an offensive turnaround this season.
  10. He hasn't played first base regularly since he was in Double-A with the Dodgers in 2018, but Luke Raley has been a pleasant surprise with the glove during the first half of spring training.
  11. Josh Lowe has had plenty of reasons to smile this spring with a .308 batting average with three homers and three stolen bases in his first 26 at-bats.
  12. Rays pitcher Taj Bradley was optioned to minor-league camp on Monday, but it would not be surprising if the team's top pitching prospect was back in St. Petersburg at some point this season.
  13. Tristan Gray, shown during a game against the Braves at CoolToday Park last spring, improved his defense at the request of the Rays and now is working on his strikeout-to-walk ratio to complement his 33-power at Triple-A Durham.
  14. Pitching coach Kyle Snyder keeps a close eye on Drew Rasmussen in the bullpen before a recent spring game at Tropicana Field. Rasmussen is one of five starters with the ability to throw deep into games, which is a departure from recent Rays rotations.
  15. With a 23-5-5 record at Amalie Arena, the Lightning are tied for the second-most wins in the NHL at home this season. The flip side is they are 15-16-1 on the road, their worst record away from Amalie since the 2012-13 season.
  16. Lightning left wing Tanner Jeannot (84) drops the gloves and fights Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) during the second period Thursday at Amalie Arena.
  17. Nikita Kucherov accepts congratulatory fist bumps after scoring one of his two goals in a 5-2 victory against Philadelphia on Tuesday night that ended a five-game Lightning losing streak.
  18. He's looking at a crowded roster situation for a utility infielder, but Charlie Culberson brings experience and a great personality/presence to the table for the Rays.
  19. They were separated by plexiglass during the COVID season of 2020, but Dave Wills (left) and Andy Freed were as close as two radio partners could get after 18 seasons together on Rays broadcasts.
  20. Yonny Chirinos threw a total of 18 innings in the Major Leagues from 2020-22 but is now a contender for the rotation after Tyler Glasnow's oblique injury.
  21. If the Bucs are smart, Leonard Fournette won't be the only player from the 2020 Super Bowl-winning team to be waving goodbye this offseason. With a bunch of free agents and an aging roster, the Bucs cannot afford to continue manipulating the salary cap.
  22. Catcher Nick Dini and other Rays players get ready for Thursday morning's workout in front of the iconic water tower at Huggins-Stengel Field. Because the complex at Port Charlotte was damaged by a hurricane, the Rays are playing spring games at Tropicana Field with workouts nearby at Huggins-Stengel.
  23. Centerfielder Jose Siri, shown diving back to first base on an attempted pickoff move against the Yankees on Tuesday, is one of a hefty number of Rays with the potential to steal a lot of bases with MLB's rule changes for 2023.