Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tampa Bay Has Decisions to Make | with 10 Days until the Start of the Regular Season, Paring Roster Is a Prime Concern

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tampa Bay Has Decisions to Make | with 10 Days until the Start of the Regular Season, Paring Roster Is a Prime Concern

Article excerpt

SPRING TRAINING: TAMPA BAY RAYS

PORT CHARLOTTE -- After a whirlwind week which included a two- day, historic trip to Havana, the Tampa Bay Rays have to get down to business, paring a roster that includes a glut of first basemen, outfielders and designated hitters, three catchers and a bullpen that will not have closer Brad Boxberger for the first month or two of the season.

With a week remaining in spring training and eight days until the start of the regular season, the Rays have some work to do -- on and off the field -- before the regular season begins at 4:05 p.m., April 3 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field.

"Any decision is difficult," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "It's difficult because we've got some really good players we have to make those decisions on."

With the final off day of the spring Monday, the Rays plan to use Easter Sunday as a day to get all their healthy position players work, whether it be in the Grapefruit League game against Toronto at Charlotte Sports Park or in a minor league game in the morning at the complex.

"We don't want to have position players have two off days this close to the season," Cash said.

The Rays likely will go with two catchers to start the season with Curt Casali, Rene Rivera and offseason acquisition Hank Conger in the mix.

Casali hit 10 home runs in 101 major league at-bats last year. Rivera had an off year with the bat, hitting .178 in 110 games, but has worked on a new approach at the plate during spring training. Conger, a switch-hitter, batted .229 with 11 homers and 33 RBI last year with Houston.

"Whatever happens with the catching situation, those guys have done a good job," Cash said. "Look at some really good qualities in all of them, even the adjustments they've made. Rene Rivera has made a huge adjustments from last year to this year."

At first and in the outfield, the Rays picked up Logan Morrison in a trade with Seattle, acquired the left-handed hitting Corey Dickerson in a deal from Colorado and signed right-handed hitting Steve Pearce as a free agent from Baltimore in the offseason to go along with incumbent first baseman James Loney, who slumped during an injury-plagued 2015, and an outfield that includes Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr. …

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