Rays new and notes:
- Marc Topkin reported from PC on the beauty of continuity in the Rays roster this season, making this Spring Training different from many of the past.
Desmond Jennings was happy about the familiar faces, and Alex Cobb provided some insight into how it will affect team dynamics:
"I think one of the problems last year was when we got into spring training, everybody was kind of cliquey, nobody really meshed well together," Cobb said. "As a group, as a whole of our team, nobody really knew each other too well.
"You could kind of see that attitude shift a little bit, probably a quarter way, halfway through the season last year, guys starting to hang out, mess with each other in the clubhouse, and just feeling comfortable.
"We get to skip that point this year and just go straight into showing up to the field with your friends and playing baseball."
Though it seemed at the beginning of the offseason that he wouldn't be in the same clubhouse this year, David Price echoed the sentiments above as well:
"Whenever you can keep a core group of guys together, it makes everything kind of go a little more smooth," ace David Price said. "It really brings the most out of your players when you can be comfortable in your own skin."
And David DeJesus, a welcome addition last season, is also enjoying the familiarity:
"We know how all of us work together, so we don't have that period where you're kind of walking around like, 'Who's he?' " DeJesus said. "We know who we are, and we've just got to go out now and just perform. That's all we have to worry about."
- Wil Myers attached a GoPro to his head during yesterday's Spring Training workouts so everyone could see a day from his point of view. It was...a little dizzy.
- Grant Balfour drives a really big truck. A really really really really really big truck. It's a Freightliner P4XL, measuring in at 22 feet long, eight feet wide and 11 feet high; basically a semi. It's got a diesel engine, plus big screen TVs in the back, because why not at that point?
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the best team in the American League. After rolling to their fourth playoff berth in six years despite a 2013 Opening Day payroll of less than $62 million, the Rays spent some real money this winter. James Loney's back on a three-year deal that probably wasn't ideal, but was certainly justifiable amid a barren first baseman market. David DeJesus got a two-year deal to be the kind of doubles-and-defense player who isn't sexy, but is favored by Rays brass. And Ryan Hanigan's onboard with a three-year contract after a three-team trade that seems really confusing until we remember that Tampa values Hanigan's pitch-framing skills and general attention to detail on defense and won't sweat his potential lack of offense.10
That's just the small stuff. The big news is that the Rays didn't trade David Price, and the Price we saw after his month-and-a-half-long 2013 DL stint looked like the Cy Young winner from 2012; that Wil Myers and Chris Archer will be in the bigs from Opening Day to season's end for the first time; and that Alex Cobb looks primed to become the next Shields, now that he's recovered from his frightening head injury.
The gap between the Rays and the Red Sox is nearly zero entering the season. Get ready for a hellacious AL East battle.10Even on that front, the Rays could have reason for cautious optimism: Hanigan was plagued by wrist problems in 2013 but has shown very good on-base skills in the past, even after controlling for the fact that he batted eighth in the order and thus drew a few more intentional and semi-intentional walks than he might've elsewhere in the lineup.
- Stu Sternberg and Rick Kriseman had a pow wow on Tuesday afternoon, their first official meeting since Kriseman took office in January. Neither party revealed details of the chat, but Sternberg said it was "a great conversation."
- If you're free on Tuesday March 11th, or looking for a reason to skip work or class, all proceeds from the sale of single-game tickets to Rays-Twins that afternoon will benefit the Rays community partners in Port Charlotte: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, the Charlotte County Family YMCA, Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity and the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition.
- Our own Chris Moran took a look at the correlation between speed and errors over at Beyond the Box Score.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>There is a possum watching the Phillies play catch. He climbed to the top of the outdoors fence. Police fear he is rabid.</p>— Matt Gelb (@magelb) <a href="https://twitter.com/magelb/statuses/436164153137700864">February 19, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>! RT <a href="https://twitter.com/davidmaialetti">@davidmaialetti</a>: Playing possum <a href="https://twitter.com/Phillies">@Phillies</a> Spring Training. <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23wildlife&src=hash">#wildlife</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23SpringTraining&src=hash">#SpringTraining</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Phillies&src=hash">#Phillies</a> <a href="http://t.co/zh3vkTBVl8">pic.twitter.com/zh3vkTBVl8</a></p>— Matt Gelb (@magelb) <a href="https://twitter.com/magelb/statuses/436166373191204864">February 19, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>