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Cron, Arroyo adjusting to Grapefruit League

Both make spring debuts; reliever Venters returns to action
MLB.com @wwchastain

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sunday's road trip to play the Twins at Hammond Stadium felt new to a handful of Rays players.

C.J. Cron and Christian Arroyo started for the Rays, which marked the first Grapefruit League action of their careers. Cron grew up in the Angels organization, and Arroyo came up through the Giants organization. Both of those teams train in Arizona.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sunday's road trip to play the Twins at Hammond Stadium felt new to a handful of Rays players.

C.J. Cron and Christian Arroyo started for the Rays, which marked the first Grapefruit League action of their careers. Cron grew up in the Angels organization, and Arroyo came up through the Giants organization. Both of those teams train in Arizona.

View Full Game Coverage

As for Jonny Venters, Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Twins marked his first Spring Training action since the spring of 2013, when he suffered a UCL tear in Lakeland, prompting the second of the three Tommy John surgeries he's experienced.

Cron, who homered and doubled Sunday, acknowledged that the Grapefruit League has some inherent differences from the Cactus League, like batting practice. Teams normally hit at their home locations before busing to the games.

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"We'd rarely hit at other people's places," said Cron, who said that before he packed up and took the bus to Fort Myers he felt like he was forgetting something. Alas, every road game will be a new adventure.

"It's fun going to new stadiums," Cron said.

Arroyo, who came to the Rays in the trade that sent Evan Longoria to the Giants, took live batting practice on Saturday against Alex Colome, Sergio Romo and Daniel Hudson.

"Everything checked out after that," said Arroyo, who has been taking things slow after his season ended on July 2 with a broken left hand. "I ended up seeing about 30 pitches, probably swung at about a third of them, so everything was good. No issues with the hand at all."

So he concluded that Sunday was his "first day as a normal person." That normal person started at third base and went 1-for-3.

Rays manager Kevin Cash called Venters pitching Sunday "a big deal."

"Pretty amazing," Cash said. "You see one procedure, guys bounce back a lot. Then you see two, they're starting to come back from that. He might be the first with three."

Venters, 32, told reporters he had difficulty sleeping Saturday night in advance of his appearance, but he managed to calm down to pitch a scoreless inning in which he allowed a walk. He went to his sinker to get an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play started by Arroyo.

"Arm felt good," Venters said. "Can't complain about my arm, it felt great. I was excited to be out there, to get through it and be healthy, and I didn't get beat up too bad."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Christian Arroyo, C.J. Cron, Jonny Venters