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Cron arrives in camp, wows in batting practice

New acquisition Solak also appears at Rays' facility
MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- C.J. Cron worked out with Tampa Bay on Wednesday for the first time since getting traded by the Angels to the Rays for a player to be named.

"I just want to try and connect and get that bond," Cron said. "Because we're all going to be teammates. It's good [the trade] happened before Spring Training so I can meet them all and we can become a tight-knit group."

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- C.J. Cron worked out with Tampa Bay on Wednesday for the first time since getting traded by the Angels to the Rays for a player to be named.

"I just want to try and connect and get that bond," Cron said. "Because we're all going to be teammates. It's good [the trade] happened before Spring Training so I can meet them all and we can become a tight-knit group."

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Count Rays manager Kevin Cash among the impressed after watching Cron take batting practice on Wednesday.

"It was unbelievable how far he was hitting balls today in batting practice," Cash said. "Into the wind. It was like the wind was blowing out. So we do have some guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark."

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Cron will have more opportunity with the Rays after being blocked somewhat by Albert Pujols during the 28-year-old's time with the Angels.

"It's baseball," Cron said. "Sometimes you're going to have opportunities, sometimes you're not. When you get that opportunity, you have to make the most of it. That's what I'm most excited about, is to just play hard and try to win."

Cash said the right-handed-hitting Cron will play first base and designated hitter, which will be balanced with Brad Miller playing first, second and DH.

Cron's career numbers say he hits right-handers better than left-handers, hitting .268 with a .315 on-base percentage and a .457 slugging percentage against righties and .248/.288/.429 against lefties. Cron seemed non-plussed when asked about his reverse splits.

"I'm not sure about the numbers, but I feel comfortable against both sides," Cron said. "I don't really believe in the whole splits thing, with me personally. I feel like I hit both sides."

Solak arrives
Nick Solak was one of the four players the Rays received -- two additional players heading to the Rays are yet to be determined -- in the three-way deal involving the Yankees and D-backs that sent Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona Tuesday. Solak arrived to Rays camp Tuesday morning.

The second baseman said he got the news around 5 or 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.

"[Yankees general manager] Brian Cashman called me and told me I'd been traded," Solak said. "From there, I got calls from the Rays, and I'm excited to be here."

Solak said he was "pretty surprised" about the trade.

"When I woke up in the morning yesterday, I didn't think I'd get traded," Solak said. "But I'm real excited for this opportunity and looking forward to it."

Video: Newest Ray Nick Solak discusses fresh opportunities

Solak, 23, hit .297/.384/.452 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs for Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season. He's known for his ability to get on base and for hitting the ball from gap to gap, more for average than power. Solak also possesses plus speed, per MLB Pipeline, and was appreciated for his competitiveness while in the Yankees' farm system.

Solak "is someone who has a very long history of hitting," Rays GM Erik Neander said. "He can flat out hit. He's a wonderful kid with a burning desire to improve and to make the most of what he has."

When told that Neander seemed to value his abilities, Solak said that he was excited to be in Rays camp and work with the staff and others in the clubhouse.

"It's a cool opportunity, and I can't wait to get to work," Solak said. "... I pride myself on all aspects of my game. Showing up to the ballpark and getting after it and improving in all aspects."

Solak, who attended the University of Louisville, was teammates with Brendan McKay, the Rays' No. 1 pick in the 2017 Draft, for two seasons, and Grant Kay, who also attended Louisville, for one year.

Chrinos receives praise
Yonny Chirinos has opened eyes in camp with his ability. The right-hander was impressive in stints at Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham in 2017. Cash complimented the Venezuelan native.

"Hearing his teammates talk about him. Brent Honeywell said he's one of the best teammates he's ever been around," Cash said. "The position players rave about him. They love to play defense behind him. He's one of those work-quick, put-the-ball-in-play type pitchers. He attacks the strike zone. You stand behind him and the deception coming out of the delivery really hides the ball well."

Up next
The Rays will have a light workout Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET at the Charlotte Sports Complex. All workouts are open to the public. The Rays will open Grapefruit League action on Friday with split-squad games, as they play the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., at 1:05 p.m., and the Pirates at the Charlotte Sports Complex at 1:05 p.m.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, C.J. Cron, Nick Solak