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Rays open sixth spring in Charlotte County on February 15

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla-The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their 17th spring training and sixth in Charlotte County on Saturday, February 15 when Manager Joe Maddon and his staff welcome 40 pitchers and catchers to Charlotte Sports Park. The players will take the field at 10 a.m. All subsequent workouts will start at 9:30 a.m., except for the 10 a.m. first full-squad workout on Thursday, February 20, when the camp expands to 64 players, including 24 non-roster invites. For all spring training workouts, admission and parking are free.

All nine players who started defensively for the Rays in their final game of the 2013 postseason are back in camp this season. That's the first time that has been the case since spring training 2002. That includes all four of the infield starters from Opening Day 2013: 1B James Loney, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Yunel Escobar and 3B Evan Longoria. All four were finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at their positions. On only two other occasions has the Rays Opening Day starting infield from one season been in training camp the next: 1998-99 and 2008-09.

This spring's 40-man roster has 21 players that have been acquired via trade by Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. It also is the only major league roster with three Rookie of the Year award winners: Evan Longoria (2008), Jeremy Hellickson (2011) and Wil Myers (2013).

It was 100 years ago-March 26, 1914-that the first game between two major league teams took place in the Tampa Bay area. The Chicago Cubs, in their second season of training in Tampa, hosted the St. Louis Browns at Plant Field on the grounds of the grand Tampa Bay Hotel and now the site of the University of Tampa. The Browns and their manager, Branch Rickey, were enjoying their first year of training in St. Petersburg having been wooed there by future mayor Al Lang. The Cubs edged the Browns, 3-2, in that first game despite making six errors. The Cubs were fueled by a first-inning, two-run home run by Cy Williams while Elmer Koestner and Zip Zabel shut out the Browns through eight innings. The two teams played again the next day at Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg as the Cubs made the trip across Tampa Bay by steamboat. Chicago won again by the same score as James Leslie (Hippo) Vaughn was the winning pitcher in front of 4,000 fans.  

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