Sucre homers for quiet Rays vs. Pirates

Sucre homers for quiet Rays vs. Pirates

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Pirates used a six-run fifth to fuel a 7-2 win over the Rays Saturday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park.

Jacob Stallings, the son of University of Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings, started the fifth-inning fireworks when he jumped on a 2-1 offering from Rays right-hander Danny Farquhar and deposited the ball over the wall in left.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Archer set for debut as he preps for season, Classic

Archer set for debut as he preps for season, Classic

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer will make his spring debut Sunday afternoon when the Red Sox visit Port Charlotte.

"I love baseball, so I'm excited to go out there and throw some baseballs again," Archer said.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Weeks looks comfortable at unfamiliar spot

Weeks looks comfortable at unfamiliar spot

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rickie Weeks has never played first base. Second base and the outfield have been his Major League ports of call.

But in Saturday afternoon's 7-2 loss to the Pirates, Weeks found himself at first, which is the position the Rays intend to take a good look at the veteran playing this spring.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Over back injury, De Leon eager for game action

Over back injury, De Leon eager for game action

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jose De Leon has not yet pitched in a game for the Rays this spring, but the right-hander -- acquired from the Dodgers in the Logan Forsythe trade -- isn't worried.

"I missed my first bullpen [session] because my back was a little tight," De Leon said. "So I was pushed back a little."

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Beckham doubles and triples in spring opener

Beckham doubles and triples in spring opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Shortstop Tim Beckham, competing for a utility role, doubled and tripled to help lead the Rays to a 3-1 win over the Twins in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams Friday night at Hammond Stadium.

Byungho Park paced the offense for Minnesota, going 2-for-2 with a double off the right-field wall. Park, who was designated for assignment shortly before Spring Training, is competing with Kennys Vargas and Ben Paulsen to be the Twins' designated hitter.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stanek has few fastball peers

Rays' fireballing prospect has clocked in at 103 mph

Stanek has few fastball peers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jaime Schultz found himself holding the radar gun and charting pitches last summer because he would be starting Triple-A Durham's game the following night. That's when something caught his eye.

Ryne Stanek was on the mound for the Bulls and he uncorked a fastball.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Robertson looks to be Rays' next utility stud

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- "Positional flexibility" is a popular phrase around Rays camp. It has been ever since Joe Maddon arrived to manage the team prior to the 2006 season.

If you join the Rays, better bring some extra gloves along, because chances are, they're going to want to take a look at you playing other positions. Daniel Robertson came to the Rays prior to the 2015 season in the five-player deal that sent Ben Zobrist -- one of the aforementioned positional flexibility standards -- to the A's. Shortstop was Robertson's main position until last season at Triple-A Durham, where he started 75 games at shortstop, 20 games at third and 21 at second.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cash's learning curve helped along by peers

Rays manager is one of many 30-somethings at the helm of sports teams

Cash's learning curve helped along by peers

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Once upon a time, Rays manager Kevin Cash was seen as a rarity -- a man in his 30s leading a pro franchise -- but these days, it has become more common across the sporting landscape.

The Padres have a 39-year-old manager in Andy Green, who is just six months older than Cash. The NFL's Los Angeles Rams hired Sean McVay at 31. And then of course there's Tyronn Lue, who at 39 years old coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA Championship.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor for MLB.com based in Tampa Bay. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays' prospect Stanek on cusp of a dream

Rays' prospect Stanek on cusp of a dream

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Since he was taken by the Rays in the first round of the 2013 Draft, Ryne Stanek has bided his time in the Minors and waited for his break. This spring, it appears the wait may nearly be over.

"It's been a long road," he said. "[I] definitely had to be patient."

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com based in Tampa Bay. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Longoria returns to camp after 2 days of illness

Longoria returns to camp after 2 days of illness

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After missing two days of workouts with a bug, Evan Longoria was back with the Rays on Wednesday.

"Rough couple of days," Longoria said. "I feel much, much better today. Just fever and aches. Couldn't kick it. Last night was a sweat bucket, but I finally got it out of my system.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lo-Mo takes pride in being the boom in the room

Lo-Mo takes pride in being the boom in the room

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The silence inside the Rays' clubhouse was broken this month when the Rays decided to bring back Logan Morrison for another season.

That's because there's no such thing as a quiet clubhouse with Lo-Mo in it.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Next step for Kiermaier: Upping his offense

Next step for Kiermaier: Upping his offense

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Defense has always been a priority for Kevin Kiermaier.

And the Rays center fielder has elevated the way the position is played. He won Gold and Platinum Glove Awards for his work in 2015, and also won a Gold Glove Award in 2016 -- despite playing in just 105 games due to injuries.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Before and after: Colby Rasmus' Photo Day beard

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Before and after: Colby Rasmus' Photo Day beard

Photo Day is fantastic for many reasons, not the least of which is that it chronicles key facial hair decisions. 

Could you say that his beard makes Rasmus look like he takes a horse and buggy to work? Sure! But you may have missed your opportunity, because it looks like Rasmus has already made some changes

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Beckham working in OF to boost versatility

Infielder embracing opportunity at Spring Training, hopes to land spot on 25-man roster

Beckham working in OF to boost versatility

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- George Hendrick used to tease Tim Beckham about getting an outfield glove.

Hendrick, who was the Rays' outfield coach, had been an outfielder, and he liked to stir things up. Beckham was the perfect target for his game.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cash feels 'very good' about Rays' catchers

Wieters off market, but Tampa Bay's manager confident in team's backstops

Cash feels 'very good' about Rays' catchers

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Matt Wieters agreed to a deal with the Nationals on Tuesday, thereby ending any speculation that the Rays might sign the veteran catcher.

That leaves Tampa Bay's catching in the hands of Curt Casali, Luke Maile, Jesus Sucre and, once he's healthy, Wilson Ramos.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Super utility: Uber on Franklin's resume

Rays player has been driver for past two offseasons

Super utility: Uber on Franklin's resume

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- You're taking Uber to the airport, and the driver looks familiar. Finally, it comes to you: Nick Franklin.

No way. Why would the Rays utility man be driving Uber?

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cash happy with results from early camp drills

Cobb tosses live batting practice as fielders hone popup skills

Cash happy with results from early camp drills

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Alex Cobb threw live batting practice on Monday, and the right-hander told reporters, "It was a good day."

"There weren't too many hitters, I had a lot of injured guys in my group who were kind of just tracking," Cobb said. "I had Brad Miller, who was swinging, and he swung often, thankfully [which allowed Cobb to see how a hitter reacted to his pitches]. But it was good.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Glove at first sight: Rays rejoice on Glove Day

Players talk preferences as they receive mitts for upcoming campaign

Glove at first sight: Rays rejoice on Glove Day

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Christmas in March.

Such was the feeling early Monday morning when Wilson showed up to deliver gloves to Rays players for the coming season.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Club prez Auld: Rays positioned well for 2017

Club prez Auld: Rays positioned well for 2017

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As America celebrates Presidents Day, Rays president Brian Auld sent along the following message to his constituents, the fans of the Rays:

"As you get ready for an exciting season of Rays baseball kicking off with Opening Day on April 2, keep these three things in mind:

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mallex Smith could be latest player to wear No. 0

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Mallex Smith could be latest player to wear No. 0

Mallex Smith made news this offseason as he may have set the record for shortest time on a Mariners roster. Seventy-seven minutes after Jerry Dipoto acquired him from the Braves, he was traded again -- this time to the Rays as part of the package for Drew Smyly. 

The number of those trades are also two higher than his new uniform number with the Rays: Zero.

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Archer: Rays should be 'well-rounded'

Right-hander believes club has potential to reach next level

Archer: Rays should be 'well-rounded'

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer doesn't like looking in the rearview mirror. A proactive approach better suits the Rays' right-hander, so his eyes are constantly looking forward.

But Archer did manage to have a sense of humor about the 2016 season.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cash after first workout: 'We're in a good spot'

Cash after first workout: 'We're in a good spot'

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- On Sunday morning, the Rays held their first full-squad workout, affording Kevin Cash the opportunity to make his remarks to the team about the coming season. The Rays' manager said that his message might have lasted 90 seconds, but it was clear nonetheless.

"We really believe in the guys that are in this room," Cash said.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miller sticking to second base at camp

Infielder used to changing positions, but anticipating stability in 2017

Miller sticking to second base at camp

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Brad Miller has moved around a lot during his four Major League seasons.

Miller played shortstop for the Rays during the first half of the 2016 season. But when shortstop Matt Duffy came over in a trade with the Giants, Miller was relegated to first base. Prior to joining the Rays, he'd played shortstop, third base, center field, left field and second base for the Mariners.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Souza: 'I'm my biggest critic'

Outfielder working to improve consistency at Spring Training

Souza: 'I'm my biggest critic'

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Maybe no player on the Rays is harder on himself than projected starting right fielder Steven Souza Jr., who enters his third season with the club knowing he has to dial it back.

"I'm my biggest critic," Souza admits. "I know what my flaws are, and I try to improve them every year. For me, it's just consistency, trying to find avenues to explore that and be consistent day in and day out."

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Longo shortens swing, grows beard for spring

Longo shortens swing, grows beard for spring

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The face of the franchise has a different face this spring.

Evan Longoria reported to Rays camp looking more like Paul Bunyan with a full-blown beard, admitting he ditched his razor shortly after saying goodbye to the 2016 season.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ping-pong table sparks clubhouse camaraderie

Ping-pong table sparks clubhouse camaraderie

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Atlanta Falcons may have lost the Super Bowl, but they helped deliver the Rays a brand new addition to their clubhouse this spring: a ping-pong table.

"[The Falcons] brought in a ping-pong table, and then all of a sudden, they ended up ordering five because it became such a good [time]. The guys were having fun kidding around with each other, " manager Kevin Cash said.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.