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Notes: Tsutsugo draws crowd; Renfroe flexes

@juanctoribio
February 18, 2020

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- While most of the Rays' players arrived early to Spring Training camp, Tuesday was the first full-squad workout for the ballclub, which generated a bit of a different buzz following some of the offseason acquisitions. The Rays have several new faces on the roster this spring,

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- While most of the Rays' players arrived early to Spring Training camp, Tuesday was the first full-squad workout for the ballclub, which generated a bit of a different buzz following some of the offseason acquisitions.

The Rays have several new faces on the roster this spring, including Yoshitomo Tsutsug, who is gearing up to play his first year in the Majors following an illustrious 10-year career in Japan. Throughout the workout, Tsutsugo, who took part in batting practice and hit outside for the first time, drew a big crowd from fans, media and front-office personnel.

“Training in Japan is a lot longer,” Tsutsugo said through a interpreter. “I was surprised that the training here is more efficient and short. It’s better that way.”

Tsutsugo noted the distance of batting practice is different in the United States. The slugger said batting practice throws in Japan come from a further distance as opposed to how players get ready in the Majors. That difference in distance created an adjustment period for Tsutsugo, who swung and missed on his first swing during batting practice.

“I was hoping you wouldn’t ask about that,” Tsutsugo laughed.

But as batting practice rounds continued, Tsutsugo began to make better contact, including a couple of balls that cleared the right-field wall.

“We’re not worried about Yoshi,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “His first two or three rounds you could tell, I think in the U.S. we probably have the pitcher a little close than in Japan, to be expected. But the way he handled it was pretty awesome. He didn’t get frustrated, he just said, 'Whatever.' And after [a few rounds], he got his timing and put on a pretty good show.”

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First workout notes

Hunter Renfroe has impressed with his power during early batting cage work, but the outfielder showed off his power during batting practice on Tuesday. Renfroe launched nearly a dozen homers during his session.

“He’s got a lot of power; he hits the ball really, really hard,” Cash said. “If you look at what he has done, the power he has displayed at the Major League level, Minor League level -- who knows if we even get him if there’s no injury last year. … If he’s healthy, he’s really dangerous.”

• During fielding work, José Martínez and Ji-Man Choi handled the duties at first base. Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle worked at second base. Yandy Díaz and Daniel Robertson took grounders at third, while Willy Adames worked at shortstop.

• Not much activity happened during the first batting practice session, which is expected. The first group of Austin Meadows, Kevin Kiermaier, Choi, Tsutsugo and Renfroe faced right-hander Ryan Thompson, who has a sidearm delivery.

• Cash said Peter Fairbanks impressed him during his throwing session, saying the right-hander “picked up right where he left off last season.” The Rays are expected to have a much larger batting practice day Wednesday.

Ticket sales

The Rays announced single-game tickets for the 2020 season will go on sale this week. The general public will be able to purchase tickets at 10 a.m. ET on Friday through the MLB Ballpark app and RaysBaseball.com. At 10 a.m. on Monday, single-game tickets will go on sale through all outlets.

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