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Rays offer advice to T-ball parents, coaches

Cash stresses importance of environment at clinic at Tropicana Field
MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays kicked off their youth leagues initiative at Tropicana Field on Saturday morning by hosting a clinic for T-ball parents and coaches.

Rays manager Kevin Cash, who played on the Northside Little League team that represented Tampa in the 1989 Little League World Series, and coaches Tom Foley and Jim Hickey addressed the coaches during the clinic.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays kicked off their youth leagues initiative at Tropicana Field on Saturday morning by hosting a clinic for T-ball parents and coaches.

Rays manager Kevin Cash, who played on the Northside Little League team that represented Tampa in the 1989 Little League World Series, and coaches Tom Foley and Jim Hickey addressed the coaches during the clinic.

"Talking to coaches, I try to stress that to me, it's all about creating the environment and wanting our guys to come out and play and wanting those kids to come out to play," Cash said. "Most of the people [at the clinic] are big Rays fans. They want information about our team. Some of the new guys. So you try to give them as much information as you can."

Many differences exist between managing Major Leaguers and coaching Little League. Cash appreciated those differences.

"I think you totally separate it," Cash said. "When you have these Little League dads, who are coaches, ask you questions about coaching 10- to 12-year-olds, and they have 15 on a team, it's totally different, the way that you communicate with those players as opposed to the players we get to work with on a daily basis.

"Whatever you're doing, you're trying to create a quality environment where the guys enjoy being there. So if there's a similarity, I'd say that's it. Obviously, there's [many] more difficulties to my job, but I don't really have to deal with parents. And some of those Litle League coaches do."

For the third straight year, the Rays, Majestic Athletic and Suncoast Credit Union are providing jerseys and caps to more than 10,000 T-ball players and coaches from more than 80 local leagues. The program reaches Little League, Cal Ripken, Dixie and Pony T-ball teams in Charlotte, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

The uniforms include 18 variations of Rays colors and styles. The jerseys are created by Majestic Athletic, the official uniform supplier of Major League Baseball. The annual savings from the initiative, as reported by the participating leagues, is approximately $200,000.

"It's a really nice thing that the Rays do and what they provide for those Little Leagues that are obviously really hurting for money, support and everything, because kids aren't showing up as much as they once did due to travel baseball," Cash said.

The Rays are also inviting all fans to attend Play Ball Day, a free event on Sunday that celebrates youth baseball and softball with games and instruction. Former Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine and catcher Mike DiFelice will interact with youth players.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tampa Bay Rays