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Rays open tenth spring in Charlotte County on February 14

Pitchers & catchers report in nine days

The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their 21st spring training and 10th in Charlotte County on Wednesday, February 14 when Manager Kevin Cash and his staff welcome 41 pitchers and catchers to Charlotte Sports Park. The players will take the field at 10:30 a.m. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Monday, February 19 when camp expands to 64 players, including 24 non-roster invites. For all spring training workouts, admission and parking are free.

The Rays are scheduled to play 33 Grapefruit League games this spring: 14 at Charlotte Sports Park, 18 road games and one at Tropicana Field on March 27. They open the Grapefruit League schedule with split-squad games on Friday, February 23, when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates at Charlotte Sports Park and visit the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota. The Rays 2018 spring training season is presented by Visit Tampa Bay.

The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their 21st spring training and 10th in Charlotte County on Wednesday, February 14 when Manager Kevin Cash and his staff welcome 41 pitchers and catchers to Charlotte Sports Park. The players will take the field at 10:30 a.m. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Monday, February 19 when camp expands to 64 players, including 24 non-roster invites. For all spring training workouts, admission and parking are free.

The Rays are scheduled to play 33 Grapefruit League games this spring: 14 at Charlotte Sports Park, 18 road games and one at Tropicana Field on March 27. They open the Grapefruit League schedule with split-squad games on Friday, February 23, when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates at Charlotte Sports Park and visit the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota. The Rays 2018 spring training season is presented by Visit Tampa Bay.

Cash's coaching staff features only two coaches returning to the same position from 2017: hitting coach Chad Mottola and bullpen coach Stan Boroski. New to the staff are third base coach Matt Quatraro, pitching coach Kyle Snyder and first base coach Ozzie Timmons. Charlie Montoyo has assumed the role of bench coach after serving as the third base coach, and Rocco Baldelli moves from first base coach to the newly created role of major league field coordinator. Five members of this reconfigured coaching staff once played in the Rays organization: Cash, Baldelli, Mottola (minors), Quatraro (minors) and Timmons.

Some of baseball's top young talent will be on display at the Charlotte Sports Complex this spring. In January, Baseball America ranked the Rays at No. 5 in its annual Organizational Talent Rankings of minor league prospects, their highest position since 2013 (No. 4). The publication's Top 100 Prospects included six Rays, a figure topped only by the Atlanta Braves (eight). Three of Baseball America's Top 50 prospects will spend the spring in major league camp: right-handed pitcher Brent Honeywell (No. 14), shortstop Willy Adames (No. 16) and first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers (No. 45).

The Rays will enter spring training with one of the youngest rosters in baseball. Only four players on the current 40-man roster have turned 30 years old: outfielder Denard Span (turns 34 on February 27), right-handed pitcher Chaz Roe (31), left-handed pitcher Dan Jennings (30) and catcher Wilson Ramos (30). The club will enter the 2018 season with a streak of 560 games started by a pitcher under the age of 30.

Last spring, the Rays offense amassed 172 runs and 32 home runs, their highest totals since 2010 (194 runs, 37 home runs). The pitching staff ranked fifth in the majors and fourth in the Grapefruit League with a 4.10 ERA. Over the past 10 years, the Rays have captured three Grapefruit League titles (2008, 2010, 2014) while winning at least 15 games seven times-something they were unable to do in all 10 springs as the Devil Rays (1998-2007).

NEW FACES ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER (12)
Acquired in Trades (4): INF Christian Arroyo, INF Ryan Schimpf, OF Denard Span, INF Joey Wendle
Claimed off Waivers (1): INF Micah Johnson
Selected from Minor League System (7): 1B/OF Jake Bauers, RHP Diego Castillo, RHP Yonny Chirinos, RHP Brent Honeywell, RHP José Mujica, OF Justin Williams, LHP Ryan Yarbrough

GONE FROM THE 40-MAN ROSTER (17)
Free Agent (9): OF Peter Bourjos, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP Alex Cobb, 1B/DH Lucas Duda, RHP Tommy Hunter, 1B Logan Morrison, INF Trevor Plouffe, OF Colby Rasmus, RHP Sergio Romo
Traded (2): RHP Brad Boxberger, 3B Evan Longoria
Waived (5): C Curt Casali, RHP Taylor Guerrieri, OF César Puello, RHP Shawn Tolleson, RHP Chase Whitley
Re-signed to Minor League Contracts (1): RHP Kevin Gadea

IMPORTANT DATES
Saturday, February 10, 11 a.m.: 2018 Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field. Many Rays players and coaches are expected to attend.

Tuesday, February 13, 12:30 p.m.: Pre-spring training press conference at Charlotte Sports Park with Rays Manager Kevin Cash, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations/General Manager Erik Neander and Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom. Lunch will be provided by the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau following the press conference.

Wednesday, February 14, 10:30 a.m.: First workout, pitchers and catchers.

Sunday, February 18, 8:30 a.m.: Photo Day for media only. All players and coaches will be available for head-and-shoulders photos.

Monday, February 19, 10:30 a.m.: First full-squad workout.

Friday, February 23, 1:05 p.m.: Rays Grapefruit League opener (split-squad). Rays host the Pirates at Charlotte Sports Park and visit the Orioles in Sarasota.
 
Tuesday, March 27, 12:35 p.m.: Rays host the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field.

TICKET INFORMATION
Fans can purchase 2018 spring training season tickets, 3-game packs, and Combo Packs online at raysbaseball.com/spring or by calling 888-FAN-RAYS. Spring training season tickets provide access to the best seat locations at the largest discount. Spring training season ticket holders receive additional benefits, including the opportunity to purchase discounted parking and merchandise, a Rays spring training season ticket holder T-shirt and hat and an exclusive event with Rays player(s) and/or coach(es) and staff. Season tickets for the 14 home spring training games scheduled to be played at Charlotte Sports Park start at just $258. Groups, Picnic Areas and Suites are available for purchase by calling 888-FAN-RAYS. Single-game spring training tickets can be purchased online at raysbaseball.com/spring, by phone at 888-FAN-RAYS or at the Charlotte Sports Park and Tropicana Field box offices.

GETTING EXTENSIONS
Charlotte Sports Park and Tropicana Field will both introduce expanded protective netting this season, extending to the outside edge of the dugouts. The backstop netting and extensions at both ballparks will be a green, knotless net, which will provide better game visibility than the previous traditional, black knotted netting. The extensions will be the same height as the current backstop nets at both facilities: 30' high at Charlotte Sports Park and 29' high at Tropicana Field. The length of the dugout extensions are 84' at Charlotte Sports Park and 80' at Tropicana Field. All 30 major league ballparks will have protective netting extending to at least the far ends of both dugouts by 2018 Opening Day. Each major league club has made the decision to expand its ballpark netting beyond the minimum recommendations issued by the Commissioner's Office in December 2015.

VIDEO ON A SILVER PLATTER
The Rays provide a daily postgame video feed of all non-televised spring training games. This will include about two minutes of highlights plus two short interviews. For day games, video should be uploaded by 5:15 p.m.

SPRING TRAINING SEASON TICKET HOLDER EVENT
On Saturday, February 17, Spring Training Season Ticket Holders are invited to an exclusive event at Charlotte Sports Park. The event will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will feature special appearances by Rays players, coaches, mascot Raymond and the Rays Street Team.

FAN EXPERIENCE / SELECT-A-SEAT EVENTS
On Saturday, February 17 and Monday, February 19, in addition to fans being able to attend the pitchers and catchers workout at Charlotte Sports Park, there will also be inflatable games, face painting and other complimentary activities. Rays Ticket Representatives will be on-site for a special Select-a-Seat event, offering fans the opportunity to become a Season Ticket Holder for the 2018 Spring Training Season. The festivities will run from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Special appearances will be made by Rays mascot Raymond and the Rays Street Team.

RAYS PARTNER WITH CHARLOTTE BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS FOR 10th CONSECUTIVE YEAR
The 10th Annual BaseBALL Dinner & Auction benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charlotte County will be held on Saturday, February 24 at 6 p.m., at Charlotte Sports Park. To purchase tickets, fans should call (941) 235-2472. Expected this year are Rays Manager Kevin Cash, his coaching staff and several players.

MINOR LEAGUE CAMP
Minor league pitchers, catchers and position players are reporting together this year. The first workout at Charlotte Sports Park is March 4. At that time, there will be approximately 150 players in minor league camp.

MAKE IT A NATIONAL HOLIDAY
Opening Day 2018 will be a historic day for Major League Baseball, as all 30 clubs play their season openers on Thursday, March 29-the first time in 50 years that every major league club opened on the same day. In 1968, a much smaller league of 20 teams opened the season together. In addition, March 29 will represent the earliest calendar start to a season in major league history, excluding off-site special events. It will also mark the first time the Rays have ever opened a season on a Thursday. Opening Day will be the third time the Rays have hosted the Boston Red Sox for their home opener, following March 31, 2003 (a 6-4, walk-off win) and April 9, 1999 (a 4-1 loss). It will be the ninth consecutive season the Rays will play at home on Opening Day, tied for the longest active streak in the American League. But the pomp and circumstance will carry into the next week for the Rays, as they travel north to visit the New York Yankees and Red Sox for their respective home openers, April 2 and April 5.

Tampa Bay Rays