The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

5 things to know about the Tampa Bay Rays heading into spring training

  • Print

TAMPA, Fla. - Five things to know about the Tampa Bay Rays as they start spring training camp:

GETTING THEIR MONEY'S WORTH: The focus this winter was on keeping together last year's team, which won 92 games and lost to Boston in the ALDS. That included a decision, at least for now, to not trade ace David Price, who was given a $14 million, one-year salary that's a big chunk of a projected opening-day payroll of nearly $80 million — a franchise high. The budget-conscious Rays not only expect to contend for the AL East title, but feel they have what it takes to win it all. "This is clearly as good of a team as we could ask for, given our (financial) constraints," principal owner Stuart Sternberg said after signing free agent closer Grant Balfour. The team's other off-season moves included re-signing first baseman James Loney and trading for catcher Ryan Hanigan, reliever Heath Bell and infielder Logan Forsythe. No club's done more with limited financial resources the past six years. Tampa Bay's 550 wins since 2008 are the second-most in the majors behind the Yankees' 564.

MOUND DRIVEN: The Rays thrive on pitching and defence, boasting one of baseball's top rotations and a deep, versatile bullpen. Tampa Bay posted a franchise-record 17 shutouts in 2013, and the club's 32 shutouts over the past two seasons match the Dodgers for the most in the majors. The Rays allowed one run or less in 39 games last season, most in the AL since the 2005 Angels. Defensively, they committed 59 errors, second fewest in the majors behind Baltimore's 54.

SCORE SOME MORE: While the Rays have never had an overpowering lineup, they've still found ways to win 90-plus games the past four seasons, five of six overall. They were ninth in the AL in runs scored a year ago, however, there's potential to be more potent in 2014 with Hanigan added to the mix and reigning rookie of the year Wil Myers and late 2013 addition David DeJesus in the lineup for full seasons.

SHUT THE DOOR: Closer Fernando Rodney is gone after two successful seasons in Tampa Bay, but manager Joe Maddon feels good about replacing him with Balfour, who signed a $12 million, two-year deal after converting 62 of 67 save opportunities for Oakland over the past two seasons. Bell and Juan Carlos Oviedo also are options for closing games and helping Balfour remain fresh. That's a luxury for a team that customarily enters spring training without a specific reliever designated for the closer's role. "We're actually going to use the C-word this year, which is unique for me and for us," Maddon said. "To have all these different tools in the toolbox, all of a sudden, it's kind of neat."

KEEPING IT INTERESTING: Maddon is known for creating a relaxed clubhouse atmosphere. Outside of demanding players play hard every day, the manager has few team rules. He keeps things light and fun, and it's difficult to argue with the results. During a tough stretch last season, among the things Maddon did to liven up the routine was bring a music DJ, merengue band and even a cockatoo into the clubhouse to provide pregame entertainment.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 110621 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 -  Doug Chorney, president Keystone Agricultural Producers flight over South Western Manitoba to check on the condition of farming fields. MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
my2011poy
  • Goslings with some size head for cover Wednesday afternoon on Commerce Drive in Tuxedo Business Park - See Bryksa 30 Goose Challenge- Day 12- May 16, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google