Rays' spring slate highlighted by division tilts

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays will begin their 2018 home Spring Training schedule against the Pirates on Feb. 23 in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Charlotte Sports Park.

The team announced its full 2018 Spring Training home schedule on Monday, which includes 14 home dates.

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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.

After debut, Mercado makes waves at instructs

After debut, Mercado makes waves at instructs

The Tampa Bay Rays are renowned for their ability to develop young, projectable pitching prospects. So when the organization expresses the level of excitement that it currently does regarding 2017 second-round Draft pick Michael Mercado, it's a reason to take notice.

"He had a great first year," Rays Director of Minor League Operations Mitch Lukevics said about Mercado, the club's No. 15 prospect. "Michael's really tall and lanky with a good delivery and pinpoint control at a young age. It's impressive stuff that will only get better as he matures."

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays visit Puerto Rico, provide hurricane aid

Club delivers much-needed supplies to island in need

Rays visit Puerto Rico, provide hurricane aid

TAMPA, Fla. -- Puerto Rico needed relief.

So Tampa Bay called upon its bullpen and delivered a save that was too big for any box score.

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J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB,com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

#AwardWorthy: Vote for Kiermaier's glove

#AwardWorthy: Vote for Kiermaier's glove

Kevin Kiermaier has long been one of the premier defensive outfielders in baseball. With great instincts and above-average speed, he plays one of the deepest center fields in the game and tracks down balls that fall for hits in most outfields.

Although he missed two months of action with a fractured right hip, Kiermaier still made one of the signature catches in baseball this season. His flying, five-star grab on Sept. 15 against the Red Sox earned him a nomination for Best Play, Defense, in this year's Esurance MLB Awards.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McKay working as position player at instructs

McKay working as position player at instructs

The Tampa Bay Rays made it clear that Brendan McKay, arguably the best two-way Draft prospect since Dave Winfield in 1973, would play both ways in his professional debut after signing with the organization for $7,007,500 as the No. 4 overall pick.

That's what McKay, ranked No. 3 on the Rays Top 30 and No. 19 overall, did during his time with Class A Short Season Hudson Valley this summer, appearing in 36 games as a positional player (or as a designated hitter) and making six regular-season starts on the mound.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Will LoMo be back with Rays in 2018?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain opens the Inbox to answer fans' questions

Inbox: Will LoMo be back with Rays in 2018?

Do you think the Rays can sign Logan Morrison this offseason? He is a good power hitter and first basemen. I feel we need him to get to the postseason in 2018.
-- Joann C., Bellari, Fla.

Lo-Mo had a nice bounce-back season after a disappointing 2016. Prior to the 2017 season, the Rays were able to sign him for another year due to the way the free-agent market played out. I think that will be the case again this year. If the market plays out to where he does not get much interest, he could return. But based on what he did this season, and the fact he is a really good teammate, I think the idea of him returning is a longshot. But I've seen stranger things happen. I do believe the Rays will want a veteran first baseman to be with the team in the event Jake Bauers struggles. Will that first baseman be Morrison? We will have to wait and see.

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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.

Pitching at top of mind for Rays this offseason

Expect Archer's name to crop up in trade rumors again

Pitching at top of mind for Rays this offseason

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays failed to reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive season in 2017. But mixed with that disappointment, the club has a lot to be excited about going forward.

The Rays should have a strong influx of players coming up from the farm system. How they envision that group of players fitting in will affect what the front office does when piecing together the 2018 squad.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Honeywell, Sanchez named top prospects

Honeywell, Sanchez named top prospects

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brent Honeywell and Jesus Sanchez have been named the Rays Prospects of the Year by MLB Pipeline.

Honeywell, 22, is ranked No. 1 on the Rays' Top 30 Prospects list and No. 11 overall. The right-hander has a full arsenal that includes a fastball, slider, changeup and screwball.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays make assortment of coaching changes

Snyder to replace Hickey as pitching coach in 2018

Rays make assortment of coaching changes

ST. PETERSBURG -- Change was in the air Tuesday when the Rays announced that pitching coach Jim Hickey is leaving the organization and bench coach Tom Foley will move to a new position with the club. In addition, Major League coach Jamie Nelson will not return to the staff, but a new role for him within the organization is being explored.

Third-base coach Charlie Montoyo will assume the role of bench coach in 2018, while Triple-A Durham pitching coach Kyle Snyder will be promoted to Major League pitching coach.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays disappointed, but have strong foundation

Tampa Bay will head into 2018 with solid pitching, handful of rising prospects

Rays disappointed, but have strong foundation

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yes, the Rays ended the 2017 season on a high note, but no, the Rays do not deem 80 wins acceptable.

"If we begin to start accepting 80 [wins] or something that's not good enough, I don't know where we're going," Kevin Cash said.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays fall short in 2017 despite improvements

Rays fall short in 2017 despite improvements

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays were contenders for most of the 2017 season. Unfortunately, the ending didn't match the midseason optimism created by this year's squad.

Finding themselves at seven games above .500 (51-44) and two games out of first place in the American League East on July 18, the Rays had reason to believe they could reach the postseason if they continued their steady ascent.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Casali, Snell power Rays in finale shutout of O's

Casali, Snell power Rays in finale shutout of O's

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell gave the Rays a quality start and the offense put away the game late as the Rays ended the season on a high note, defeating the Orioles, 6-0, Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

The win completed the Rays' three-game weekend sweep, giving the team a third-place finish in the American League East with an 80-82 record, which matched Kevin Cash's best season as the team's manager. The Orioles finished at 75-87, losing 19 of their last 23 to end the season in last place in the AL East for the first time since 2011.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

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

Snell hits stride in '17, saves best start for last

Snell hits stride in '17, saves best start for last

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell improved dramatically in the second half of 2017, finishing with the best effort of his career in Sunday's 6-0 win over the Orioles.

Snell was perfect through four innings, and finished with a career-high 13 strikeouts and just two hits allowed over seven frames.

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Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Romo serves as bat boy in final game

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Romo serves as bat boy in final game

Though it probably seems as if Opening Day was about a month ago, Sunday marked the final day of the regular season. This scenario usually brings with it fun or otherwise unusual circumstances, such as players playing every position on the diamond (we're looking at you, Andrew Romine) and more. 

For the Rays, that included enjoying the services of a special batboy during their 6-0 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field: Veteran reliever Sergio Romo, who definitely looked the part.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Draft order set; Rays to pick 16th

Giants, Phillies, White Sox and Reds follow Detroit in top five

Draft order set; Rays to pick 16th

Both the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers had designs on the postseason in 2017. For a variety of reasons, things didn't work out as planned. The consolation prize? Getting to pick at the top of the 2018 Draft.

It came down to the final day of the season and both teams finished tied with 64-98 records. By virtue of the Tigers' .534 winning percentage in 2016 (the Giants finished that season at .537), they get the first pick. Detroit has had the No. 1 pick just once before, taking Matt Anderson in 1997.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colome quietly finding home among MLB best

Colome quietly finding home among MLB best

ST. PETERSBURG -- Many baseball fans have missed it, but Alex Colome led the Major Leagues in saves this year. In the Rays' 4-3 win over the Orioles on Saturday, Colome notched his 47th save.

With his next-closest competitor sitting at 41 saves, before Saturday evening's action was complete, Colome became the first Rays closer to lead the Majors in the statistic. Manager Kevin Cash advocated for Colome after the game, wondering how his trusted closer could be so overlooked in conversations about the game's best.

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Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miller, Archer boost Rays in series win vs. O's

Miller, Archer boost Rays in series win vs. O's

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brad Miller accounted for most of the Rays' offense and Chris Archer ended the season on a high note as the Rays defeated the Orioles, 4-3, on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.

The win gave the Rays a series win heading into the final day of the season, when the teams will meet again in a 3:10 p.m. ET contest.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

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

Longoria accomplishes rare feat with latest HR

Third baseman in elite company with 9th season of at least 20 homers

Longoria accomplishes rare feat with latest HR

ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria celebrated a milestone in Friday's 7-0 win over the Orioles, connecting on his 20th home run to put him in historic company.

Longoria reached 20 home runs for the ninth time in his first 10 seasons. Before Friday, only one third baseman had ever started his career in such an impressive manner: Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, who eclipsed the mark in his first 14 years. The only American League third baseman to hit 20 homers nine times in his entire career was Graig Nettles.

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Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays shut out O's as Longo, Morrison go deep

Rays shut out O's as Longo, Morrison go deep

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays played like a team still in the playoff hunt while taking a 7-0 win over the Orioles on Friday night at Tropicana Field.

Both teams were recently eliminated from playoff contention, leaving the American League East rivals to play a three-game series this weekend with little on the line other than pride. That seemed to be ample motivation for the Rays, who played one of their better games of late.

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

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

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

Odorizzi exits with right knee soreness

Cash says he lifted right-hander for precautionary reasons

Odorizzi exits with right knee soreness

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jake Odorizzi made an unexpected exit from Friday's 7-0 win against the Orioles, leaving the mound with right knee soreness before the start of the fifth inning.

The Rays' right-hander was taking warmups when he signaled to the team's dugout, bringing out manager Kevin Cash. Cash decided to lift Odorizzi for precautionary reasons, wanting to keep his pitcher healthy heading into the offseason.

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Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Souza takes home team MVP honors

Writers honor Cobb, Faria; Sanchez, Chirinos earn Minor League accolades

Souza takes home team MVP honors

ST. PETERSBURG -- Friday brought a day of recognition for Rays players and Minor Leaguers.

The Tampa Bay Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced its annual Rays awards at the Clutch Hitters Luncheon, held at the St. Petersburg Hilton Carillon.

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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.

With 7-run rally in 5th, Rays knock off Yanks

With 7-run rally in 5th, Rays knock off Yanks

NEW YORK -- Wilson Ramos' go-ahead two-run homer as part of a seven-run fifth inning helped the Rays rally for a 9-6 victory Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, averting a series sweep while all but nixing the Yankees' hopes of securing the American League East title.

Despite Aaron Judge's American League-leading 51st home run, the Yankees' elimination number in the division was reduced to one, meaning the next the next Red Sox win or Yankees loss will hand the AL East to Boston. The Yanks would then play the Twins in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday in New York.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

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.

Cobb asks Souza to stop throwing seeds at him

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Cobb asks Souza to stop throwing seeds at him

Ah yes, the old "throw sunflower seeds at the guy who is being interviewed in the dugout routine." We've seen it many times. So many times in fact, Alex Cobb had seen it enough and made sure Steven Souza Jr. stopped tormenting him with the redundant act.

During the Rays' 9-6 win over the Yankees on Thursday night, Cobb was participating in an in-game dugout interview with the broadcast team. The sunflower seeds began trickling in, compliments of Souza Jr., and after a while, Cobb -- clearly willing to give his teammate as much of a hard time as he was getting himself -- had enough and asked the outfielder to quit.

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Ramos eager to return to All-Star form in '18

Rays catcher prepares for full season after missing April, May this year

Ramos eager to return to All-Star form in '18

NEW YORK -- Wilson Ramos is a player Rays fans can get excited about for 2018.

In Thursday night's 9-6 win over the Yankees in the series finale at Yankee Stadium, he showed one of the reasons why: "The Buffalo" can hit.

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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.

Andriese, Rays unable to contain Yankees

Andriese, Rays unable to contain Yankees

NEW YORK -- Luis Severino's confidence bounced back with a sharp tuneup as he prepares for the first postseason start of his career, backed by homers off the bats of Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks as the Yankees defeated the Rays, 6-1, on Wednesday evening at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees (89-69) improved to a season-high 20 games over .500, though they remain three games behind the Red Sox -- who beat Toronto on Wednesday -- in the American League East.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

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.

Cobb likely to have pitched last game with Rays

Cobb likely to have pitched last game with Rays

NEW YORK -- Alex Cobb has likely pitched his final game in a Rays uniform.

After Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Yankees eliminated the Rays from having any chance at making the postseason, manager Kevin Cash announced that Cobb would be scratched from making his final start of the season Thursday night against the Yankees.

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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.

Inbox: Which pending FAs will return in '18?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers Rays fans' questions

Inbox: Which pending FAs will return in '18?

The Rays are going into the offseason with a lot of very good players and a very healthy Triple-A affiliate, but payroll is going to be a huge issue for the team in 2018. Which players do the Rays prioritize keeping and which do you see as expendable?
-- Matt P., Tampa, Fla.

Payroll is always a concern for the Rays, so I'm sure they will strive to be cost effective, while also trying to put the best possible team on the field. Among those that I expect Tampa Bay to lose to free agency are: starter Alex Cobb, first basemen Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda, and relievers Steve Cishek and Tommy Hunter.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays can't 'catch' break in opener with Yanks

Victory ensures New York would host potential Wild Card Game

Rays can't 'catch' break in opener with Yanks

NEW YORK -- Aaron Hicks robbed Wilson Ramos of a grand slam with an unbelievable catch, Jordan Montgomery settled in to complete six solid innings and Starlin Castro homered as the Yankees secured home-field advantage for a potential American League Wild Card Game with a 6-1 victory over the Rays on Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium.

Shop for Yankees postseason gear

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

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

Kiermaier, Sucre go deep, but Rays fall to O's

Kiermaier, Sucre go deep, but Rays fall to O's

BALTIMORE -- J.J. Hardy hit a two-run home run in what was likely the last home game of his seven-year Orioles career, and rookie Chance Sisco added a two-run shot to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 9-4 win over the Rays on Sunday.

With the loss, the Rays fell six games back in the American League Wild Card race with six games to play.

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Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore who covered the Orioles on Sunday.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore who covered the Rays on Sunday.

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