Welcome back: as of noon yesterday, all but four of the Rays position players had checked into Port Charlotte: Wilson Betemit, Yunel Escobar, Logan Forsythe and Ben Zobrist.
Word of the day from the "JOECABULARY*":
Datamentals (n.) - Fundamen- tals relating to a player's abil- ity to digest data. "Datamentals also can really exceed what you can teach physically or mentally. Sometimes data puts everything in perspective."
*Definition: Words actually used by Manager Joe Maddon; term created by the Rays Media Department
News and notes:
Evan Longoria was pleased with Andrew Friedman's moves this offseason, noting the front office's commitment to the team for the season and the future:
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Longo also provided his take on the "eat last" mentality:
"One of the main focuses of the book is that everybody, human beings want to be around people who believe what they believe, and when you are, good things can happen. When you're with a group [and] everybody around you is all rowing in the same direction and wants the same things and you're not scared to leave those people to make decisions for themselves and be human beings and be leaders in their own right, you're better, everybody's better, the group is better."
(ICYMI: The story behind "eat last" becoming Joe Maddon's mantra for 2014.)
Oh, and since I know it's been keeping you up at night, here's how Longo proposed to Jaime Edmondson:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>So how did <a href="https://twitter.com/Evan3Longoria">@Evan3Longoria</a> propose to <a href="https://twitter.com/jaimeedmondson">@jaimeedmondson</a>? "In the bathtub. ... She already made it clear she didn't want any theatrics."</p>— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) <a href="https://twitter.com/TBTimes_Rays/statuses/435458965032689664">February 17, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
James Loney spoke with Marc Topkin regarding his return to the Rays:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Loney on re-signing w/<a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rays&src=hash">#Rays</a>: "I'm excited to be back. We had a good run last year, and we're looking to build on that.'</p>— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) <a href="https://twitter.com/TBTimes_Rays/statuses/435419703322738689">February 17, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Loney spoke highly of the experience of playing for the <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Rays&src=hash">#Rays</a> and the camaraderie they have: "I want to win with these guys.'</p>— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) <a href="https://twitter.com/TBTimes_Rays/statuses/435424648663011328">February 17, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Also per Topkin, Jake McGee is working on a curveball and changeup this Spring Training, so "hitters will have more to think about," while Desmond Jennings gained 10-15 pounds of muscle this offseason as a preventative measure:
"I get here every spring and I probably lose at least 10 pounds, so I feel I'll be around what I want to play with once the season starts," he said.
Maddon gave feedback on Jennings' size and affect it may have on his spot in the lineup:
"Of course he's got that [leadoff] potential, but you saw the potential to really drive the ball and drive in runs, also. We'll just play that by ear. ... You want that leadoff guy to be a high on-base percentage guy to get out there and set the table, and then, of course, you want a couple guys, the busboys, to clean it up; and if he's gotten that big, which I've heard from other people, we'll see. He's been comfortable in that middle slot, did a really nice job with that. I don't want to commit to anything right now."
Longo has the chance to break some franchise records this season, creeping up on Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford in the team history books:
- His 162 HR are one shy of Carlos Peña's club record
- Longo's 544 RBI are 48 shy of Carl Crawford's 592 mark
- With 200 doubles, he's 15 shy of Crawford's team record
- Crawford's 424 extra-base hits leave Longo 51 shy at 373
- The team released full details for this Saturday's Fan Fest, with the Rays utilizing social media this year to further engage fans:
- @RaysBaseball will provide up-to-date info throughout Fan Fest and answer any questions fans may have
- By hashtagging #RaysFanFest in all tweets, attendes can have their messages posted on the RaysVision board
- The Rays will debut "Club Social" presented by T-Mobile, a social media hub for fans that will kick off via a #Tweet2MeetMoore contest in the next few days on Twitter, allowing the opportunity to - who would've guessed - meet Matt Moore
- Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe provided a preseason ranking of MLB managers, placing Joe Maddon at number five. One through four? John Farrell, Bob Melvin, Terry Francona and Bruce Bochy.
- Requirement to be an infielder? You must be able to dance...according to Matt Williams:
"I always ask the infielders if they can dance or not . . .If they can dance, then they can play infield. If they can't dance, we need to get them lessons, then they'll be able to play infield. So that's all it really is. You play through the baseball and create rhythm and all that stuff. You become more accurate, all those things.
"They always play music during batting practice, right . . . And I would always try to get my ground balls according to the music. I developed that type of rhythm according to what's playing on the scoreboard. With the beat."