What to know about Rays' Spring Training

February 9th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Adam Berry's Rays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ST. PETERSBURG -- As the Rays' pitchers and catchers report to Charlotte Sports Park on Tuesday, president of baseball operations Erik Neander and manager Kevin Cash will hold their annual Spring Training-opening press conference. One question they won’t face? What their professional futures hold.

The Rays announced contract extensions for Cash and Neander on Thursday, keeping their leadership structure in place for the foreseeable future. Those two will continue to lead Tampa Bay in the dugout and in the front office, hoping to guide the Rays toward the franchise’s first World Series championship.

It all starts Tuesday. Here are some things to know about Spring Training as the Rays make their way south to Port Charlotte.

When is the first workout for pitchers and catchers?
Wednesday. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

What is the date of the first full-squad workout?
The full squad will report on Feb. 18, the day after Fan Fest at Tropicana Field, and work out for the first time on Feb. 19.

Where is the Rays’ facility?
After a year away, the Rays are returning to Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., about 80 miles south of the Trop.

Can fans attend workouts?
Yes, fans can attend and watch workouts. Activity on the fields usually begins around 10 a.m.

Who are some new faces fans should know?
There has been a decent amount of turnover for the Rays this offseason, with some recognizable veterans heading out and a handful of new faces taking their place.

Among those expected to play big roles: starter Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny DeLuca, acquired from the Dodgers for Tyler Glasnow and Manuel Margot; presumptive Opening Day shortstop José Caballero, acquired from the Mariners for Luke Raley; outfielder Richie Palacios, acquired from the Cardinals for Andrew Kittredge; left-hander Tyler Alexander, an early offseason waiver claim; and reliever Phil Maton, whose free-agent signing is pending a physical.

Right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa is perhaps the most interesting non-roster invitee to watch, given his track record and success in Japan. Catcher Alex Jackson, who played for Triple-A Durham last year and re-signed with the Rays on a Minor League deal, is a candidate to be the backup catcher on Opening Day.

Tampa Bay also re-signed reliever Chris Devenski, who finished the year in its bullpen, and added three players to the 40-man roster: reliever Manuel Rodríguez, infield prospect Austin Shenton and pitching prospect Yoniel Curet. On the coaching side, Michael Johns joined the staff as first-base coach.

Who are some of the top prospects invited to Major League camp?
Top prospect Junior Caminero (MLB's No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline) is on the 40-man roster after a late-season promotion last year. That’s also the case for infielders Curtis Mead and Shenton, starters Jacob Lopez and Curet, shortstop/outfielder Greg Jones and reliever Colby White.

Shortstop Carson Williams, the Rays’ No. 2 prospect (No. 20 in MLB), will be in his first big league camp as a non-roster invitee. He’ll be joined by catcher Domonic Keegan, lefty Mason Montgomery, infielder Ronny Simon and outfielders Kameron Misner and Tristan Peters, along with former top prospect Brendan McKay.

When is the team’s first Grapefruit League game?
The Rays will host the Braves at 1:05 p.m. ET on Feb. 24.

What are a few other notable spring games?
The Rays’ two-game trip to the Dominican Republic on March 9-10 could be a highlight of Spring Training. The Rays will play the Red Sox as part of the 2024 MLB World Tour, taking the field for two games at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital.

What is Spring Breakout and when is the game?
Spring Breakout is a new event in which each Major League club will field a team of its top prospects to play exhibition games against another club’s top prospects. Teams will be made up of each organization’s top 20-25 prospects from all levels of the Minors, giving some an early taste of big league Spring Training.

Spring Breakout is set for March 14-17. The Rays’ matchup with the Twins is March 16 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. They’ll play a Grapefruit League game at 1:05 p.m. ET, followed by the Spring Breakout game at 4:05 p.m.

Will the team’s games be televised or available on the radio?
The Rays have not yet released a Spring Training broadcast schedule, but Bally Sports Sun is expected to televise around 10 games and the Rays Radio team should air the usual mix of games via webcasts and radio broadcasts.

When is the club’s last Spring Training game?
The Rays’ last game at Charlotte Sports Park is a split-squad contest against the Orioles on March 23. They’ll play the Tigers in Lakeland on March 24 and the Phillies in Clearwater on March 25, then they’ll host the Tigers for one last matchup at Tropicana Field at 12:35 p.m. on March 26.

What are the details for Opening Day?
The Rays’ 27th Opening Day game is set for 4:10 p.m. on Thursday, March 28. They will host the Blue Jays at The Trop to begin a season-opening four-game series.