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Inside the Trop on first day of Summer Camp

@juanctoribio
July 3, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG -- About 16 players have taken part in voluntary workouts at Tropicana Field, giving them a better sense of the precautions that teams must take in order to keep everyone as healthy as possible during the coronavirus pandemic. For the other half of the pool of players who

ST. PETERSBURG -- About 16 players have taken part in voluntary workouts at Tropicana Field, giving them a better sense of the precautions that teams must take in order to keep everyone as healthy as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the other half of the pool of players who are set to practice at the Trop over the next three weeks, Friday’s first official workout served as an introduction to the extensive amount of regulations that the Rays and Major League Baseball have put in place.

“It’s different, for sure,” said Rays starter Blake Snell. “Everybody is really just trying to distance themselves, as they should, but it’s just weird to be distant. We’re a close group and we always mess with each other … it’s just kind of weird.”

While extremely necessary, the scene was certainly different for everyone in attendance. All players and staff members underwent a temperature check upon arrival before being split up into four groups of about eight players. Each on-field session lasted about an hour, and the players are encouraged to leave the ballpark as soon as they can after their individual workout.

Down the left-field line, pitchers were able to play catch and do cardio before throwing. In the stands, pitchers would go and get a quick workout in as resistance bands and other equipment were set up to use. Across the stadium, hitters had an agility section, which was orchestrated by strength and conditioning coach Joey Greany.

Stationary bikes and free weights were also available down the right-field line, giving the players a chance to get a workout in before getting off the field and allowing the next group of players to get their work in. During the workout, coaches and staff members all wore a mask, and some players like Ji-Man Choi elected to wear a mask during parts of the workout.

Some Rays players expressed concerns with Charlie Morton, saying he’s not entirely comfortable with the idea yet, but once the players stepped onto the field, it all began to feel a little bit more normal.

“I still feel a little scared,” said Rays infielder Yandy Díaz. “But I feel happy to be back here and to see my teammates. I feel good right now, thankfully.”

On the field, position players were able to do infield work and take batting practice. Mike Brosseau, Joey Wendle and Choi all worked on infield drills, while Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Hunter Renfroe, Austin Meadows, Nate Lowe, Brandon Lowe and Díaz were some of the notable players who took batting practice. Kevin Kiermaier also stood in on a couple of pitchers in order to track some pitches.

Pitchers were also able to get their work done, giving pitching coach Kyle Snyder a better sense of where they stand. Jalen Beeks, Pete Fairbans, Morton, Colin Poche, Trevor Richards and Ryan Yarbrough all threw off the mound on Friday. Snell, who has been working out in Seattle over the past few months, also threw about 20 pitches, mixing in some breaking balls.

Now that the Rays have finished Day 1 -- though it came without perfect attendance as José Martínez, Yonny Chirinos and Chaz Roe were among the group who didn’t attend Friday’s workout due to a “variety of reasons” -- the focus continues to be keeping everybody healthy and using the first couple of days to gauge where every player is physically.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said the team would like to have some simulated games at some point during the next three weeks, but that the staff isn’t looking to plan that far ahead due to all the uncertainties.

All Cash and the Rays will do is take things day by day, and on Friday, the crack of the bat and the pop of the gloves were some of the welcomed sounds, even if it’s under unprecedented circumstances.

“The workout went really well. It was great to see the guys,” Cash said. “You can tell a lot of the guys came in and had been doing something in order to keep their bodies in shape. Really pleased just to see the guys and excited to get this thing started.”

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.