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.

Weeks offers young Rays veteran leadership

Reserve player in camp on Minors deal

Weeks offers young Rays veteran leadership

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rickie Weeks Jr. is old school. And that's not a bad ingredient to have inside the Rays' young clubhouse.

The Rays signed Weeks, 34, to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training. Last season, he made the D-backs' Opening Day roster as a pinch-hitter and reserve outfielder. He hit .239 and drove in 27 runs while playing in 108 games.

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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.

Versatile Miller getting chance to man keystone

Rays manager Cash says infielder 'up for the challenge'

Versatile Miller getting chance to man keystone

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Brad Miller will get to show off his versatility by getting a lot of work at second base this spring, manager Kevin Cash told reporters Friday.

"It's as simple as that," Cash said. "He's up for the challenge. We had a conversation before he got here. We had a conversation yesterday. Brad Miller is bought in and is all about the team, he'll do whatever. But we think, for our team, this spring, we need to get him as acclimated as possible at second base."

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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.

Hunter signs Minors deal with Rays

Journeyman in camp with chance to win bullpen job

Hunter signs Minors deal with Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Tommy Hunter arrived at the Rays camp Friday after reaching a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite.

"You know, it's an opportunity to play baseball," Hunter said. "And that's all you can ask for. As a baseball player, you're just looking forward to it and meeting some new faces, and playing with some new guys. Just seeing how it works out."

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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.

Manfred discusses Rays' stadium progress

Manfred discusses Rays' stadium progress

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the Rays' stadium situation on Thursday at MLB Spring Training Media Day at Joker Marchant Stadium.

"I continue to monitor the developments," said Manfred, noting that he has regular conversations with principal owner Stu Sternberg, and he recently spoke with St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman.

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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.

Morrison hoping for better April with Rays

Slugger aims to build on second-half momentum

Morrison hoping for better April with Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Saying Logan Morrison didn't get off to an auspicious beginning with the Rays last season would be a huge understatement.

In his first season with the Rays, Morrison hit .100 in April, with no home runs and no RBIs. Not exactly the numbers that the Rays, or the team's fans, were expecting to see from the veteran slugger.

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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 keeping eye on their four Classic players

Pitchers Archer, De Leon take steps to prepare for tournament

Rays keeping eye on their four Classic players

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Four Rays players, including starter Chris Archer and closer Alex Colome, will be headed to the World Baseball Classic, and the team doesn't believe being a part of the international event will impact their season.

But the Rays will be watching closely.

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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' De Leon focused on what's in his control

Rays' De Leon focused on what's in his control

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Right now, he's the guy they got for Logan Forsythe.

A lot of Rays fans were suprised, and disappointed, when the team traded Forsythe to the Dodgers for right-hander Jose De Leon. The move, like most moves the Rays make, was a proactive one as the club always keeps one eye on the present and another on the future.

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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.

Ramos in Rays camp; notes May return goal

Ramos in Rays camp; notes May return goal

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Wilson Ramos arrived to camp on Wednesday and the team's new catcher immediately went in for a workout before addressing reporters to offer a status report on his surgically repaired right knee.

Ramos signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with the Rays in December, a deal the club was able to make in part because Ramos was coming off knee surgery after tearing his right ACL on Sept. 26.

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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 infielder Duffy: 30 days until full speed

Rays infielder Duffy: 30 days until full speed

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Despite the fact that the first full-squad workout isn't until Sunday, every Rays player has reported to camp, save for position players Evan Longoria, Logan Morrison and Rickie Weeks Jr.

Among those in camp ahead of time is shortstop Matt Duffy, who came to the Rays from the Giants in the Matt Moore trade. Duffy had season-ending surgery on his left heel on Sept. 9, and he reports that everything is fine.

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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 energized at start of Spring Training

Rays energized at start of Spring Training

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Smiles and overcast skies greeted the first workout of the spring for Rays pitchers and catchers on Tuesday morning.

"It was great, it was fun," said right-hander Jose De Leon, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Logan Forsythe trade. "A lot more humid than Arizona, so I sweat a lot. But it was cool. 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.

Rays trade Gamboa to make room for Eovaldi

Rays trade Gamboa to make room for Eovaldi

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Eddie Gamboa was designated for assignment Tuesday morning. By evening, the Rays had traded the knuckleballer to the Rangers for cash or a player to be named.

The Rays had to create space on the 40-man roster after they signed Nathan Eovaldi, resulting in the decision to DFA Gamboa.

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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.

Odorizzi prevails in arbitration case

Odorizzi prevails in arbitration case

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake Odorizzi won his arbitration case with the Rays, which means he'll make the $4.1 million salary for 2017 he felt like he was worth rather than the $3.825 million the Rays were offering.

"We just felt like what my value was didn't match what the figure was before the agreement, and that was the turning point about going to arbitration," Odorizzi said. "And it turns out we fought a good fight and won. It's just nice to have it all done and over with and in the past. Now it's officially baseball season and we can focus on things as a team."

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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.

Eovaldi joins Rays at spring camp

Eovaldi joins Rays at spring camp

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Nathan Eovaldi had not been officially announced as a new addition to the Rays on Tuesday morning, but the unveiling of his locker next to Chris Archer spilled the beans.

Eovaldi, who turned 27 on Monday, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2017 season. The $2 million contract includes a $2 million club option for 2018.

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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 passionate about 'inspiring youth'

While traveling, pitcher regularly donates time to kids' programs

Archer passionate about 'inspiring youth'

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Dinner, sleep, TV and maybe a little shopping is the norm for a Major Leaguer on the road. Which makes Chris Archer the exception.

When the Rays right-hander travels to different cities, he looks forward to paying a visit to the local RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program.

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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.

Rays hoping 2016 injuries mostly behind them

Duffy, Souza, Morrison, Rasmus 'moving along'; Ramos not ready until July

Rays hoping 2016 injuries mostly behind them

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays camp opens for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday, and medical concerns will be swirling in the background -- specifically, those surrounding new catcher Wilson Ramos, shortstop Matt Duffy, right-fielder Steven Souza Jr., new outfielder Colby Rasmus and first baseman Logan Morrison.

"Most of them, we expect to be moving along at a controlled pace during Spring Training, expecting that they'll be ready by Opening Day," said Chaim Bloom, Rays senior vice president of baseball operations. "If not, then shortly thereafter."

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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: 'We expect to be playing games in October'

Cash: 'We expect to be playing games in October'

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Cash dropped the hammer about midway through Monday's news conference at the Charlotte Sports Park.

The Rays manager was asked if he expected to be playing meaningful games in September, to which he answered, "Yes."

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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.

Rays' clean slate bodes well as camp opens

Spring Training starts in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Rays' clean slate bodes well as camp opens

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Rays squad each day this week. The final topic: Spring Training is here.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- With pitchers and catchers reporting today and holding their first workout on Tuesday, the last thing the Rays want to do is look in the rearview mirror.

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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.

Margins in flux as Rays' roster takes shape

Camp competition could determine winners of final infield, outfield and bullpen roles

Margins in flux as Rays' roster takes shape

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Rays squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After winning just 68 games in 2016, there had to be some turnover with the Rays -- and there was.

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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.

Health, solid pitching would be Rays' perfect storm

Health, solid pitching would be Rays' perfect storm

ST. PETERSBURG -- Every team dreams about the perfect season. If the Rays were to define the things that need to take place in order to have a perfect season, here's what they'd likely say.

To start, they would wish for health.

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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.

Returning to roots the 2017 Rays vision

Returning to roots the 2017 Rays vision

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Rays squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the vision?

ST. PETERSBURG -- Every year when the calendar says it's almost Spring Training time, the vision a team has for the coming season begins to crystallize.

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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.

Rays rededicate local ballfield after renovation

Rays rededicate local ballfield after renovation

ST. PETERSBURG -- In the shadow of Tropicana Field, the Campbell Park Field rededication took place Friday morning.

Rays infielder Tim Beckham, team president Brian Auld, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and over 20 students from Campbell Park Elementary School were on hand for the ceremony that took place at home plate. Rays pre- and postgame radio broadcaster Neil Solondz emceed the event.

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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 heads group of 4 Rays on Classic rosters

Archer heads group of 4 Rays on Classic rosters

ST. PETERSBURG -- World Baseball Classic rosters were announced Wednesday and Chris Archer headlined a group of four Rays pitchers who will take part for four different teams.

Archer (United States), and fellow right-handers Alex Colome (Dominican Republic), and Jose De Leon (Puerto Rico), along with left-hander Jose Alvarado (Venezuela) all will take a leave from Spring Training to participate in this year's Classic.

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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.