Rays pack for Spring Training on Truck Day

Clubhouse manager prepares gear for transport to Port Charlotte

Rays pack for Spring Training on Truck Day

ST. PETERSBURG -- Under the watchful eye of home clubhouse manager Jose Fernandez, the Rays' clubhouse staff executed "Truck Day" Tuesday morning at Tropicana Field. That translates to Spring Training being just around the corner.

"We're ready to get to Port Charlotte to get started," Fernandez said.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays counting on rebounds, healthy returns in 2016

Rays counting on rebounds, healthy returns in 2016

ST. PETERSBURG -- Injuries can derail a season. Every team has them, but few teams endured the number of injuries the Rays incurred in 2015.

Twenty-one players logged a total of 26 stints on the disabled list last season, including four of the team's five starting pitchers.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fan Fest autograph passes go on sale Wednesday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Autograph passes for the 2016 Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest presented by the Tampa Bay Times will go on sale on Wednesday. Rays Fan Fest is scheduled for Feb. 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field.

Season-ticket holders will be granted early entry to Fan Fest, beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Admission and parking are free.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fatcast: Kiermaier vs. 35 oz. ribeye

Don't have a cow; Rays outfielder raises money for charity

Fatcast: Kiermaier vs. 35 oz. ribeye

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Enough food to fuel a family reunion adorned the table in front of where Kevin Kiermaier sat, awaiting his charity challenge.

The Rays center fielder's task: Take down the feast prepared and served at Clearwater's Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smyly wins arbitration hearing, to earn $3.75M

Smyly wins arbitration hearing, to earn $3.75M

ST. PETERSBURG -- Drew Smyly won in arbitration on Thursday, when a decision came down that the Rays left-hander will make $3.75 million for the 2016 season rather than the $3.2 million salary the team submitted.

In the process, Smyly claimed a raise of $1.1 million after being paid $2.65 million in 2015.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays reveal vision for new ballpark site

Club issues document of desired criteria for stadium

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays offered their thoughts on what they want in a new baseball stadium when they made public the process document they sent to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Thursday afternoon.

Rays senior vice president Melanie Lenz issued the following statement regarding the document that was born in the aftermath of the St. Petersburg City Council's approval of a deal allowing the team to look outside the city for a suitable stadium site:

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays sign RHP Reifer to Minors deal

Rays sign RHP Reifer to Minors deal

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have signed right-hander Adam Reifer to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Reifer, 29, pitched for Leones de Yucatan of the Mexican League in 2015 and went 1-2 with a 1.33 ERA with 21 saves in 41 appearances. He had 34 strikeouts and 11 walks in 40 2/3 innings.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Around the Horn: Catchers

Rays have solid trio in Casali, Rivera and Conger

Around the Horn: Catchers

The following is the third in a series of stories that will focus, position by position, on the 2016 Rays. Right up until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: catchers.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The catcher's position has long been an open sore for the Rays.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays provide uniforms to local T-ball players

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced Monday they will again provide jerseys and caps to local T-ball teams.

For the third straight year, the Rays, Majestic Athletic and Suncoast Credit Union will provide jerseys and caps to more than 10,000 T-ball players and coaches from more than 80 local leagues. The program reaches Little League, Cal Ripken, Dixie and Pony T-ball teams in Charlotte, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: What's the fate of Rivera, Casali?

Rays beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from fans

Inbox: What's the fate of Rivera, Casali?

Which catcher will the Rays keep or trade, Rene Rivera or Curt Casali?
-- James B., Andover, Md.

For now, I believe the Rays will keep both. If Tampa Bay does that, it will go to camp with Casali, Rivera, Hank Conger and Luke Maile. I believe they are in a wait-and-see mode to see how things shake out. Also, there are worse things than heading to camp with four healthy catchers.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Snell, 2 other Rays make Top Prospects list

Lefty ranked No. 14, with Honeywell (No. 43) and Adames (No. 81) also listed

Snell, 2 other Rays make Top Prospects list

ST. PETERSBURG -- MLB.com released its list of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball on Friday, and the Rays have three players among the group.

Left-hander Blake Snell came in at No. 14, right-hander Brent Honeywell ranked No. 43 and shortstop Willy Adames was No. 81.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Latest additions give Rays beefed-up lineup

Tampa Bay has more power with Dickerson, Pearce in the fold

Latest additions give Rays beefed-up lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- More offense is on the horizon for the Rays in 2016. On Thursday, they acquired left-handed-hitting outfielder Corey Dickerson and formally announced the signing of veteran right-handed hitter Steve Pearce.

Tampa Bay will now head to Spring Training with more offensive depth than at any time in recent memory.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays add Dickerson, send McGee to Rockies

Minor Leaguers Marquez, Padlo also exchanged in deal

Rays add Dickerson, send McGee to Rockies

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays addressed their offensive woes on Thursday, adding outfielder Corey Dickerson and Minor League third baseman Kevin Padlo from the Rockies for veteran lefty Jake McGee and Minor League right-hander German Marquez.

The two departures from Tampa Bay's 40-man roster made room for Dickerson and free-agent slugger Steve Pearce (the Rays officially announced signing him to a one-year contract Thursday night); Padlo was not on Colorado's 40-man roster.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pearce officially joins Rays on 1-year deal

Veteran signs for $4.75M plus incentives, has strong history at The Trop

Pearce officially joins Rays on 1-year deal

ST. PETERSBURG -- Steve Pearce is officially a member of the Rays. In the aftermath of Thursday's trade with the Rockies, the Rays announced they had signed the veteran slugger to a one-year contract.

Pearce will make a base salary of $4.75 million, with $1.5 million available in incentive bonuses.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Dickerson gives Rays flexibility for more

Power bat joins crowded outfield; could signing Desmond be next?

Dickerson gives Rays flexibility for more

Can't wait to see Corey Dickerson bang away for a full season at Tropicana Field.

Let's assume Dickerson got all of his health issues out of the way last summer in Denver. It sure will be fun to see what he can do in 150-plus games for the Rays, swapping one quirky home field for another.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Get hyped for Blake Snell, Rays fans

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Get hyped for Blake Snell, Rays fans

It seems like nearly every season, the Rays have another break-out young pitcher. Just look at the past five years: Jeremy Hellickson in 2011, Matt Moore in 2013, Alex Cobb in '13 and '14 and, of course, Chris Archer last season. At this point, it feels inevitable that in any given year, at least one Rays pitcher, either as a rookie or one to two seasons out of the Minors, will all of a sudden start pitching his brains out.

In 2016, the Rays pitching robot laboratory is poised to produce another: Blake Snell. 

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McGee moves on with fond memories

Lefty traded to Colorado, signed with Rays out of high school in 2004

McGee moves on with fond memories

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jake McGee is leaving the Rays, but the hard-throwing left-hander plans to continue living in the Tampa Bay area even though he was traded to the Rockies on Thursday.

"We've made this our home, so we'll stay here year-round," McGee said. "It's good there are direct flights to Denver."

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Surprise! For locals, cup of java Archer's treat

Surprise! For locals, cup of java Archer's treat

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nothing like a cup of joe to get the day started -- particularly when Rays ace Chris Archer is buying.

Archer decided to have a little fun Wednesday morning by showing up at a busy downtown St. Petersburg coffee bar and throwing down his plastic, buying coffee for some of the locals who show up to watch him pitch.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hot Stove buzz: Rays interested in Desmond?

Hot Stove buzz: Rays interested in Desmond?

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Hot Stove season means rumors come and go. For the Rays, one that persists involves free-agent shortstop Ian Desmond.

According to a report by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, a source confirmed that the Rays have interest in Desmond, but having to give up their first-round pick -- 13th overall in this year's Draft -- could be a deal breaker.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Shaffer makes MLB Pipeline's Top 10 3B Prospects list

Rangers' Gallo grabs top spot, Boston's Devers leaps to No. 2

Shaffer makes MLB Pipeline's Top 10 3B Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday on MLB.com. The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

Kris Bryant, Joey Gallo, Miguel Sano and Maikel Franco claimed four of the top five spots on last year's list of the top third-base prospects, and together they combined to hit 64 big league home runs in 2015. Gallo retained rookie eligibility and headlines this year's crop of top prospects at the hot corner, which, as a whole, stand out more for overall hitting ability than power. And as it's so often the case with young third basemen, only time will tell how many of these guys will be able to remain at the position long term.

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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.

Keuchel's beard vs. Archer's hair: Which is longer?

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Keuchel's beard vs. Archer's hair: Which is longer?

In a year dominated by hair of all shapes and sizes, one man's facial follicles ruled above them all: American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who received an endorsement from no less a bearded luminary than James Harden.

But while most of MLB has spent the offseason pushing tires or running obstacle courses to prepare for 2016, Rays ace Chris Archer is after a different crown -- Hair King of MLB. Just a couple of weeks ago, Archer went on Hot Stove to plug his dedication to his 'do, and on Monday, he took the campaign to Twitter:

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MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Bauers, Gillaspie on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 1B Prospects list

Astros' Reed sits atop list, followed by Bucs' Bell, Mets' Smith

Bauers, Gillaspie on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 1B Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29, on MLB.com. The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

First and foremost, teams want power from their first basemen, and the players on MLBPipeline's Top 10 first-base prospects list deliver. Five of them have plus pop, led by A.J. Reed's 65 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, and the other four all have average or better power. Four of the five best first basemen held the same status a year ago, with Bobby Bradley (Indians) the only newcomer on the upper half of the list.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

For this year only, Trade Deadline to be Aug. 1

Adjustment made because July 31 falls on a Sunday

For this year only, Trade Deadline to be Aug. 1

This is a leap year, and for Major League Baseball, it will mean a one-day leap in the annual non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The non-waiver Trade Deadline this season will be moved to Aug. 1 from the traditional July 31 -- which in 2016 falls on a Sunday. The deadline is 4 p.m. ET, and on July 31, there are seven games scheduled to begin between 1-1:30, five between 2-3:30 and three at 4. There are only eight games on Aug. 1, all of which are night games.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Snell No. 2 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 LHP Prospects list

Dodgers' Urias again takes top spot, but Rays' Snell closes gap

Snell No. 2 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 LHP Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2016 Top 100 Prospects list on Friday, Jan. 29, on MLB.com. The Top 50 will be revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

Just how high in demand is left-handed pitching? Six of the 10 pitchers on this year's Top 10 left-handed pitching prospects list are relatively recent acquisitions by their organization. Two come via the 2015 Draft, but four of the southpaws on this list have been traded. Three of those four deals happened at last July's Trade Deadline.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayo on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Around the Horn: Corner infield

Longoria's production remains big key to Tampa Bay's success

Around the Horn: Corner infield

The following is the second in a series of weekly stories that will focus, position by position, on the 2016 Rays. Right up until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: Corner infielders.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The corner-infield positions for the Rays will hold the most experience and the most intrigue for the coming season.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

6 reasons 2016 will be good year for Rays

6 reasons 2016 will be good year for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The offseason is a time for baseball fans to dream. To help facilitate happy dreams for Rays fans, here's a glass-half-full look at the team heading into the 2016 campaign.

1. Improved health
At 80-82, the Rays finished just six games out of a postseason berth in 2015 -- despite making 145 roster moves during the season.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Balance rules in up-for-grabs AL East

Balance rules in up-for-grabs AL East

There's no consensus favorite to win the American League East this year, and nothing is likely to happen between now and Opening Day that would change that. Go down every roster, and you'll come up with some very good reasons that team can win. You'll also come up with a string of large questions.

That's the striking thing about the AL East in 2016. It's not just that all five teams have a couple of unknowns. It's that those unknowns are significant enough to make or break a season. They involve big names and/or critical areas.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.