There are 22 days until Opening Day.
The number 22 through the Rays history has been worn by a couple of the team’s best starting pitchers as well as four other players.
- Terry Shumpert (2003)
- Jose Cruz Jr. (2004)
- Shawn Camp (2007)
- Matt Garza (2008-2010)
- Johnny Damon (2011)
- Chris Archer (2012-2017)
The number 22 was not worn by a Rays player until the 2003 season when Terry Shumpert joined the team just prior to Opening Day. Shumpert would make an impact immediately as he belted a clutch two run HR to help spark an eventual game winning rally for the Rays.
Following Shumpert’s departure to free agency following the 2003 season, the Devil Rays signed veteran OF Jose Cruz Jr, who would takeover the 23 jersey.
Cruz had a solid year for Tampa Bay in 2004, accruing a total of 2.0 fWAR. He would be traded for LHP Casey Fossum following that campaign.
It wouldn’t be until 2007, when the number would be worn again, this time by a pitcher as RHP Shawn Camp took ownership of the number and proceeded to put up an absolutely miserable season for the Rays, pitching in 50 games and finished the year with a 7.20 ERA.
Camp would become a free agent following the year. In November of 2007, the Rays acquired Matt Garza, to help solidify the team’s starting rotation. Garza took the number 22 and would become a staple of the team’s rotation for the next three years, helping the team to two post-season appearances.
During the 2008 American League Championship Series, Garza would be named the MVP following two fantastic outings, including an astounding outing during game 7 in which he held Boston to one run over seven innings pitched.
In July of 2010, Garza would deliver the team’s first ever no-hitter.
After an off-season of massive change for the Rays, Matt Garza became a member of the Chicago Cubs and Johnny Damon was the Rays new starting left fielder...err actually designated hitter thanks to the actions of Manny Ramirez.
Damon would fill in a sold veteran presence for the Rays during the 2011 season as the team made a historic march towards the playoffs, accruing a total of 1.4 fWAR along the way.
Then came along Chris Archer, acquired as part of the five player return for Matt Garza, Archer would take a couple of years to assert himself in the Rays system, but finally received a promotion to the majors for good during the 2013 season (finishing third in the Rookie of the Year chase).
Since then, Archer has taken the mantle as the team’s ace and displayed a couple of tremendous seasons.
Check back tomorrow as the countdown to Opening Day continues.