Rays tab Cobb to be Opening Day starter

Right-hander gets nod for April 6 tilt against O's at Tropicana Field

Rays tab Cobb to be Opening Day starter

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays are a month away from Opening Day, but they already know how they'll line up their pitching staff. Manager Kevin Cash announced Wednesday that Alex Cobb will get the ball first for Tampa Bay in recognition of his stellar work the past two seasons.

Cobb will start against the Orioles on April 6, and he'll be followed by Chris Archer and Drew Smyly. Cash said that Jake Odorizzi will start the Rays' first road game -- April 9 against the Marlins in Miami -- and then the team will decide whether to pitch its fifth starter or Cobb for the season's fifth game.

More

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

Archer glad rotation is set, will start second game

Rays righty not disappointed with Cobb getting Opening Day assignment

Archer glad rotation is set, will start second game

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer saw this coming.

Archer learned Wednesday that teammate Alex Cobb will start on Opening Day for the Rays, and he also found out that he will be pitching the second game of the season. That wasn't really a surprise, said Archer, and he was pleased to know how his routine will shake out over the next few weeks.

More

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

Beckham to lead off in Rays' Grapefruit opener

Asdrubal to bat third, Longoria cleanup against Orioles on Thursday

Beckham to lead off in Rays' Grapefruit opener

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays will get their Grapefruit League schedule underway Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET, and they posted their first lineup Wednesday. Tim Beckham will lead off and play second base, and he'll be followed in the order by John Jaso, Asdrubal Cabrera and cleanup hitter Evan Longoria.

James Loney will play first base and bat fifth against an Orioles split squad on Thursday, followed by outfielders David DeJesus, Brandon Guyer and Kevin Kiermaier. Curt Casali will catch and hit ninth for Tampa Bay, and Nathan Karns will be the first starting pitcher out of the gate in Spring Training.

More

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

Souza impressing Cash with disciplined approach

Outfielder has worked on hitting to all fields, using size productively

Souza impressing Cash with disciplined approach

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Cash didn't know much about Steven Souza Jr. when the Rays acquired him in the three-way trade with the Padres and Nationals in December.

"We watched some film on him," the Rays manager said. "Some of his at-bats. The big clips. You saw the one where he hit a bomb to center field somewhere and saved the no-hitter for [Jordan] Zimmermann [with a diving catch]."

More

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

Jaso steps out from behind the dish for Rays

Catcher-turned-DH getting fresh experience this spring, including outfield work

Jaso steps out from behind the dish for Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Spring Training feels a little different for John Jaso this year.

He's back where he started from, joining the Rays in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics, but it's more than that. Jaso, a catcher by trade, is not catching this spring.

More

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

St. Pete International Series to feature Rays prospects

Tampa Bay Minor Leaguers will play Canadian Junior National Team in one of 11 games

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A team of Rays Minor League prospects will host the Canadian Junior National Team at Tropicana Field on Sunday, March 22, at 1:05 p.m. ET.

The game will be a part of the fifth annual St. Petersburg International Baseball Series.

More

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

'Nicest guy in baseball' took alternate route to The Show

Cursi reflects on memorable tenure with Rays, which began as bullpen coach in '99

'Nicest guy in baseball' took alternate route to The Show

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- By Scott Cursi's estimation, he wasn't a bad player when he caught for Pickerington High School in Pickerington, Ohio.

"I could hit a little bit," said Cursi, adding with a chuckle, "but I couldn't really throw or catch."

More

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

Rays pitcher wants to return stray to his owner

|
Rays pitcher wants to return stray to his owner

People of Port Charlotte: Alex Cobb may have found your missing dog.

The Rays right-hander departed Charlotte Sports Park after Monday's spring workout like any other day, except this time he spotted a stray dog wandering dangerously close to a busy road.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Archer plans to keep plenty in his tank for stretch run

In eighth Spring Training, Rays righty knows not to push himself early

Archer plans to keep plenty in his tank for stretch run

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Starting pitchers have a two-fold task during Spring Training: build up endurance while leaving some gas in the tank for the season.

Rays right-hander Chris Archer understands that to meet the ultimate goal of pitching through the season and finishing strong, he must temper what he does during the offseason and in Spring Training.

More

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

Rays weigh pros, cons of bunting

Players, manager agree its not an easy task

Rays weigh pros, cons of bunting

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Putting one down. Bunting. Not the easiest thing to do for a Major League hitter. Nevertheless, a player not being able to bunt remains one of the hot-button issues for fans of the game.

"Bunting is not as easy as you think it is," Rays infield hopeful Tim Beckham said. "If you lose focus, you can easily foul one off the face, not get the job done as far as sac bunting. Sac bunting is huge. You're sacrificing your at-bat for the team. Once they're calling for you to get the bunt down, that's your job to get the bunt down."

More

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

Rays hold domestic violence training/education seminar

All Major League teams to participate in program this spring

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Tuesday morning, the Rays shut down the clubhouse early to facilitate a comprehensive domestic violence training/education program for 40-man roster players, coordinated by Futures Without Violence.

All Major League teams will complete the program in the first two weeks of Spring Training.

More

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

Rays prospect homers through Smyly's windshield

|
Rays prospect homers through Smyly's windshield

Rays starter Drew Smyly drives a BMW. BMW's are nice cars. So nice that one miiiight not want to park them right outside the left-field fence at Spring Training. Particularly when former No. 1 MLB Draft pick Tim Beckham is taking batting practice.

Continue Reading on Cut4

Record-breaking season sets high bar for Boxberger

After striking out 104 in 2014, Rays reliever has opportunity to close

Record-breaking season sets high bar for Boxberger

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays manager Kevin Cash smiled when asked what he would like to see from Brad Boxberger this season.

"Just whatever he was doing last year," Cash said. "... He's going to fit [into the bullpen] quite nicely."

More

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

Rays expect Rivera to add pop behind plate

Catcher can be an effective weapon at position lacking in production last season

Rays expect Rivera to add pop behind plate

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Playing time is the goal for any Major Leaguer. Nobody reaches The Show without feeling like they belong. Getting in the lineup validates that feeling.

Rene Rivera understands. He's spent a professional career that began in 2001 working toward getting his chance. The veteran catcher's time finally came last season.

More

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

Belisario discusses fractured left shoulder

Veteran reliever, non-roster invitee expects to return within three weeks

Belisario discusses fractured left shoulder

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ronald Belisario addressed the media on Sunday, a day after the Rays announced that the veteran right-hander had sustained a fractured left shoulder, which was discovered when he took his physical.

According to Belisario, the injury occurred approximately a month ago, days after he finished pitching winter ball. It happened when he was swimming with his daughter in the pool at his house in Venezuela.

More

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

Cash addresses underdog role before first full workout

New manager's speech leaves strong impression on Longoria, Rays teammates

Cash addresses underdog role before first full workout

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The new-look Rays took the field for the first time as a full squad Saturday morning at Charlotte Sports Park.

Significant among the changes are new manager Kevin Cash and team president Matt Silverman assuming the role of president of baseball operations.

More

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

Rays dedicate 'Don Zimmer Way' path at spring complex

Rays dedicate 'Don Zimmer Way' path at spring complex

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Before the Rays took the field Saturday for their first full-squad workout at Charlotte Sports Park, the late Don Zimmer was honored in a brief ceremony.

A "Don Zimmer Way" sign will now designate a path within the complex.

More

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

Belisario expected to miss start of season with injury

Non-roster invitee to Rays camp fractures non-throwing shoulder in pool accident

Belisario expected to miss start of season with injury

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays right-hander Ronald Belisario will be out for at least two weeks due to a fractured left shoulder.

"He came and got his physical -- left shoulder -- he's going to be imobilized for a couple of weeks now," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Unfortunate, but we'll adjust a little bit and go from there."

More

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

Karns set to make pitch for spot in big league rotation

Karns set to make pitch for spot in big league rotation

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Nathan Karns finds himself again competing for the No. 5 spot in the Rays' rotation. While the odds might not be in his favor to land the spot, he has a better chance than he did in 2014.

Karns came to the Rays in a trade with the Nationals on Feb. 13, 2014. He competed to earn the No. 5 spot in his first camp with Tampa Bay before spending the season at Triple-A Durham.

More

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

Cash looking forward to first full-squad workout

Cash looking forward to first full-squad workout

PORT CHARLOTTE -- Boog Powell reported to camp on Friday. No, not John Wesley "Boog" Powell, the former Orioles great, rather Herschel Mack "Boog" Powell IV, the Minor League outfielder the Rays acquired as part of the deal that sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics.

Powell's showing meant that 62 of the 63 players who are supposed to be in camp have reported. Only Alex Colome, who is experiencing visa problems, has not arrived in advance of Saturday's first full-squad workout.

More

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

Cash extending leeway to Rays pitchers

Cash extending leeway to Rays pitchers

PORT CHARLOTTE -- Spring Training would likely be shorter if the pitchers did not need the gradual buildup to get ready for the season.

In that vein, new Rays manager Kevin Cash is all for pitchers having their own routine to prepare.

More

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

Odorizzi muscles up to take bite out of season's grind

Rays RHP focuses offseason work on strengthening legs and core

Odorizzi muscles up to take bite out of season's grind

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Seventeen pounds heavier, Jake Odorizzi is ready to roll this season.

The Rays right-hander set an offseason goal of gaining weight and strengthening himself for the coming 162-game grind. And he did so by concentrating on his leg and core muscles.

More

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

Over injury hurdle, Beckham excited to be at camp

Former No. 1 overall pick missed nearly all of 2014 with torn ACL

Over injury hurdle, Beckham excited to be at camp

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Tim Beckham doesn't look in the rearview mirror.

Missed opportunities, different situations and twists of fate aren't important to Beckham, who chooses to stay in the present.

More

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

Rays' Casali, Wilson form bond while fighting for job

Rays' Casali, Wilson form bond while fighting for job

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Most Spring Training competitions are settled by the front office long before they ever play out. After all, the body of a player's work is more of an important evaluation than play during the exhibition season.

However, there are times when candidates vying for a spot are definitely fighting for a job. The battle for the Rays' backup catcher position is one such competition that might take until April to decide.

More

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

After busy offseason, Beliveau excited for season

After busy offseason, Beliveau excited for season

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jeff Beliveau was hanging out at home in Rhode Island a few weeks after the Rays' season ended when his phone rang. It was the Major League Baseball Players Association, and they wanted to know if Beliveau had any interest in a two-week tour of Japan while pitching in the MLB Japan All-Star Series.

"Immediately, I was like, yeah, 1,000 percent," he said Wednesday morning. "I was really excited."

More

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

Visa issue resolved, Belisario reports to camp

Visa issue resolved, Belisario reports to camp

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A visa issue held up reliever Ronald Belisario for a few days, but he showed up at Charlotte Sports Park on Wednesday morning ready to compete for a spot in the Rays' bullpen.

The 32-year-old right-hander signed a Minor League deal on Feb. 2. Signing so late in the offseason, he said, also led to a late visa appointment and a slight delay in getting out of Venezuela.

More

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

Francisco: Rays presented best opportunity for me to play

Unclear how he'd fit on roster, but slugger offers plenty of power

Francisco: Rays presented best opportunity for me to play

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays' roster isn't loaded with traditional power hitters, but non-roster invitee Juan Francisco fits the profile.

The 27-year-old slugger reported to Charlotte Sports Park on Wednesday and explained his decision to sign a Minor League deal with Tampa Bay this offseason. Francisco said he received multiple offers, but he thought the Rays presented him with the best opportunity.

More

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

Balfour returns home to be with ailing father

Balfour returns home to be with ailing father

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays reliever Grant Balfour left camp on Wednesday to be with his ailing father in Australia.

Balfour said recently that his father, David, has been battling pancreatic cancer for about three and a half years.

More

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