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Spring break: Golf popular with Rays on off-day

MLB.com @wwchastain

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Spring Training is all about getting prepared for the coming season. But for those so inclined, there's also time for the best baseball players in the world to sharpen their golf game.

Monday is an off-day for the Rays, so plenty of players will be teeing it up.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Spring Training is all about getting prepared for the coming season. But for those so inclined, there's also time for the best baseball players in the world to sharpen their golf game.

Monday is an off-day for the Rays, so plenty of players will be teeing it up.

Among those, Dana Eveland is king of the roost. The veteran left-hander carries a 1 handicap, which means he's the guy always handing out the strokes. Said classification also qualifies him to offer scouting reports on how the other golfers on the team rank.

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First, Eveland paid his respects to Charlie Haeger, the Rays' Minor League pitching coordinator.

"Best golfer in camp," Eveland said. "Unbelievable, he should be on some tour playing. That's how good he is."

As for the players …

"I've heard [Evan Longoria] can play pretty well, but I've never seen him play," Eveland said. "[Austin] Pruitt's really, really good. He's beaten me a few times.

"[Luke] Maile's really close. When we play, I give him a stroke or two. [Curt] Casali's not far behind him."

Alex Cobb is said to be gaining steam, and he'll be busy on Monday participating in the ProAm for the 2017 Valspar Championship PGA Tour event.

Eveland noted that a lot of guys were still learning the game, like hard-throwing Ryne Stanek.

"Stanek can hit it a mile," Eveland said. "Big surprise, the guy can throw 103 mph."

Eveland gave props to Taylor Guerrieri, too: "I'd say he's next in line behind Casali."

When asked about sandbaggers, Eveland allowed that was a tough question given the fact he's playing with professional athletes -- some of whom can get by on their athleticism, but aren't consistent. When pressed, he went with Nick Ciuffo and Ryan Garton.

"Ciuffo, you just don't know who is going to show up that day with that kid," Eveland said. "He can shoot 78 or he can shoot 98. Garton's pretty good, too. Same thing as Ciuffo. He can show up and shoot an 80 and shoot 100."

Eveland noted that scrambling is the strongest part of his game, and why he's able to post low rounds.

"I'm not the straightest off the tee," Eveland said. "I play smart golf generally. I'll go for it when the time is right. I'll play smart other than that. And when I'm going well, I can putt."

As for Monday's plans?

"Eighteen holes at least," Eveland said. "Maybe 36."

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

Tampa Bay Rays