In a move that couldn't have surprised anyone, the Rays announced that David Price will take the mound Opening Day against the Blue Jays. It will be Price's third Opening Day start, but it hasn't lost it's luster to him just yet,
"Any time you're asked to throw the first game of the season for your club, it's a big day," Price told reporters. "We take pride in it. It's a very special feeling for that Opening Day, whether you're pitching it or whether you're on the bench. I've been on the bench on Opening Day and it still gives you goose bumps, the national anthem, everything that goes on.
"You know during Opening Day, it's very special for us and it kicks off our season. So it's always good to get the ball rolling, and I'm the one that got the nod, so I'm very fortunate for that."
Considering the expectations a few months ago that Price wouldn't be with the team at all this season, Joe Maddon is equally as excited as DP,
"All I know is this: When you see him here now, I try to visualize him not being here now, and the different feeling that would engender," Maddon told reporters. "It would be an entirely different feeling without him being here.
"It's really good to have him back, man. You got to do it. You got to play that mind game with yourself. What would it be like to not have him here? Not nearly the vibe we have going on right now."
The team made more cuts to their roster on Thursday afternoon, optioning RHP Nathan Karns, RHP Kirby Yates, LHPs Jeff Beliveau, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, INF Vince Belnome, INF Hak-Ju Lee, and OF Kevin Kiermaier to Triple-A Durham and reassigning OF Mikie Mahtook to minor-league camp.
Despite the success seen in his start Tuesday, the Rays felt Karns wasn't yet ready, but will be of future help, with Maddon saying,
"I think he's got great makeup, and he's a major league pitcher. There's still a couple of things we want him to work on."
With the Karns' move, the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation is now down to Jake Odorizzi, Cesar Ramos and Erik Bedard.
At long last Juan Carlos Oviedo will be arriving in Port Charlotte, after a visa debacle that has kept him in the Dominican Republic for the current duration of Spring Training.
Maddon believes Oviedo can still be ready for Opening Day despite his absence, as he's continued to throw regularly while in the DR...per Oviedo? Or his agent? We'll see how he looks...
"Tampa Bayyyy, Rays Up..."
Somehow I don't think the family friendly Rays-related remix will include "take your shirt off, spin it 'round your head like a helicopter," but hey, you never know? If you have zero idea what I'm referencing, time to kick off your Friday with some fresh outta jail Petey Pablo.
That all being said, the Rays are kicking off their 2014 advertising slogan and campaign this weekend: "Rays Up," with heavy support from all print, radio and TV outlets, along with a large dose of social media marketing.
Expect more details about the thoughts behind the campaign and what the Rays are trying to accomplish later today on the blog.
- We mentioned Max Tissenbaum's blog when he was traded to the Rays during the offseason, but Jessica Quiroli spoke with Tissenbaum about what inspired him to begin writing and how it helped him cope with the whirlwind unexpected move to the Rays.
- Which pitchers were "the most backwards" in 2013? Bryan Cole scoped it out on Beyond the Box Score, referencing an article R.J. did over at BPro in 2011 and another by Bill Petti at Fangraphs after the 2012 season.
- A great brutally honest piece by Eno Sarris over at Hardball Times about his first year in a major league clubhouse, and the need to learn the language in order to get what you really want, and need, from the players.