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Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day Countdown: 16 days to go

One of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen wore the number 16 for Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Devil Rays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

There are now 16 days until Opening Day.

In the team’s history, there have been eight players to wear the number 16 for the Rays, including a former Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and pitching Triple Crown winner (all from the same guy)

  • Tim Laker (1998)
  • Dwight Gooden (2000)
  • Felix Martinez (2000-2001)
  • Travis Lee (2003, 2005-2006)
  • Brendan Harris (2007)
  • Willy Aybar (2008-2010)
  • Justin Ruggiano (2011)
  • Chris Gimenez (2012-2013)

Tim Laker played three games for the 1998 Devil Rays and it’s anyone’s guess whether he wore the #16 or #26 during those outings.

After his exit from the team following that season, Dwight Gooden joined his hometown team early on in the 2000 season. A far cry from his incredible years with the New York Mets in the 1980’s, Gooden struggled mightily during his eight starts with the Rays during the 2000 season as he allowed 32 runs (14 HR) over eight starts (36.2 IP).

Following Gooden’s release, infielder Felix Martinez took over the jersey for the next season and a half. During the 2000 season, Martinez provided the Devil Rays with a solid season and was 2nd on the team in fWAR (1.4). The following year, Martinez’s production plummeted as he performed well below replacement level. He would be released during spring training in 2002.

In 2003, the Rays brought in first baseman Travis Lee and he would proceed to be the best player on that team in terms of fWAR as he accumulated 3.4 fWAR and finished the season with a 112 wRC+.

He would return after a year away in 2004, and spend 2005 and 2006 with the Rays but struggled during his reunion with Tampa Bay and would be released before the completion of the 2006 season.

Toronto Blue Jays vs Tampa Bay Devil Rays - April 4, 2005 Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Brendan Harris came in during the 2007 season and won the starting short stop job for the Rays, taking over the #16 jersey.

While with the Rays that season, Harris put up the best year of his career as he accrued 2.4 fWAR and hit .286/.343/.434 with 12 HR over 137 games. After the season, Harris would be involved in a franchise altering trade as he was packaged along with Delmon Young and sent to the Minnesota Twins for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett.

Kansas City Royals  v Tampa Bay Devil Rays Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Willy Aybar would be acquired prior to spring training in 2008 and won the starting third base job, before going on the disabled list just one week into the season. When activated, he had already lost his job to top prospect, Evan Longoria, and filled in as a bench player through the rest of the year, providing the Rays with several clutch moments along the way.

Aybar would stick with Tampa Bay through the 2010 season before being granted free agency.

In 2011, Justin Ruggio donned the #16 for the Rays as 46 games for Tampa Bay during that miracle season.

Chris Gimenez was the last player in franchise history to wear the number #16, as he donned the jersey from 2012-2013 during his limited opportunities.

Check back tomorrow as the countdown continues.