Rays announce changes to training staff

The Tampa Bay Rays today announced changes to their major league medical training staff.

November 7th, 2017

The Tampa Bay Rays today announced changes to their major league medical training staff. Joe Benge has been promoted to the position of head athletic trainer, replacing Ron Porterfield, who left the organization for another opportunity. Mark Vinson has been promoted to first assistant athletic trainer. Paul Harker has been named major league medical coordinator. Additional roles on the major league medical staff -- including a second assistant trainer and other considerations -- will be finalized at a later date.

"It's always tough to lose someone as talented and dedicated as Ron Porterfield, but we wish him nothing but the best," said Rays Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations/General Manager Erik Neander. "We are excited to see Joe, Vinny and Hark in their new roles, building upon current practices and ensuring that the ATC staff continues to provide first-class care to our players."

Benge (pronounced BENJ), 40, becomes the fourth head athletic trainer in franchise history, following Jamie Reed (1997- 2002), Ken Crenshaw (2003-05) and Porterfield (2006-17). He has spent the last seven seasons in the Rays organization, including the last six (2012-17) as minor league medical training coordinator, overseeing all minor league athletic trainers and rehabilitation with minor league players while assisting the major league club. He was named 2015 Minor League Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) and served as a trainer for the World Team at the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego the following year. Benge joined the organization in 2011 as the athletic trainer for Triple-A Durham, following 10 seasons as an athletic trainer in the Baltimore Orioles system (2001-10), reaching Double-A Bowie in his final season there. He graduated from Loyola (Md.) College with a B.S. in biology in 1999, and received his master's degree in kinesiology from Fresno Pacific University in 2010.

Vinson, 40, enters his 13th season in the Rays organization, including the last seven (2011-17) as assistant athletic trainer. Before joining the major league staff, he spent three seasons (2008-10) as the minor league medical training coordinator. Prior to serving as athletic trainer for Durham in 2007 and Double-A Montgomery in 2006, he spent four years (2001-04) as an athletic trainer in the Texas Rangers system. Vinson received a degree in athletic training from Bluefield (Va.) College and earned his master's degree in education at the University of Virginia in 1999.

Harker, 49, enters his 22nd season in the Rays organization and 28th in professional baseball. In the role of major league medical coordinator, he will assist the athletic training staff in a variety of ways, with a focus on logistical support and organizational coordination. He will also be heavily involved with directing care for major league players on the disabled list as well as medical evaluation. He spent the past 12 seasons (2006-17) as assistant athletic trainer on Porterfield's major league staff, following three years as the Rays minor league athletic training and rehabilitation coordinator (2003-05), five seasons as the athletic trainer for Durham (1998-2002) and one season as the athletic trainer for the St. Petersburg Devil Rays (1997). He previously spent six seasons as an athletic trainer in the Seattle Mariners organization (1991-96). Harker earned a B.S. in food and nutrition from Florida State University in 1991.