CHICAGO -- The Tampa Bay Rays have played at Wrigley Field only once prior to this weekend's series.
The previous visit took place during a three-game set from June 3-5, 2003, when the then-Devil Rays lost two out of three to the Cubs. That series also contained the infamous Sammy Sosa corked bat episode, when the Cubs slugger was ejected in the first inning of the June 3 game after cork was discovered in his shattered bat.
Many of Tampa Bay's current players had never set foot inside of historic Wrigley Field prior to Friday afternoon's game. Rays manager Joe Maddon had never even been inside Wrigley before.
"It's very, very cool," Maddon said. "I'm excited about it. I've never been here before. First time. I've ridden my bike around here in the past. I watched it on television growing up. It's my 20th year in the Major Leagues and it's my first visit here. I love it. It is the essence of baseball. You talk about Fenway, and what that's all about. The way this is more of a neighborhood setting than Fenway, it's uniquely cool. So it's pretty impressive."
Brandon Guyer, who came to the Rays in the Jan. 8, 2011, trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs, noted that it was exciting being back at Wrigley, though he'd never played in a Major League game at the park.
"I actually played a game here at [Class A] when [Ryne] Sandberg was our manager," Guyer said. "So I've actually had the luxury of playing here before. After that game, that gave me the taste, like, 'Oh, man, I can't wait to be here.' So it's cool to be back, even if it's on the visiting side. Such a historical stadium."
Guyer played for Peoria in 2008 against the Kane County Cougars, who are now a Cubs affiliate. Back then, Kane County was an affiliate of the A's. Guyer remembered doing well during the game.
"First pitch, I hit a home run," Guyer said. "I was like 3-for-4, I had a pretty good game. So it was fun. I wanted to be here after that game. It was a night game. Sold-out crowd. So it was pretty cool to experience that and see what they're all about here. For a Minor League game to be a sold-out crowd, [that] just shows what their fans are like."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.