The sign out in front of the practice fields at Charlotte Sports Park is the same, but much has changed in both the roster and the facilities. (Photo: Steve Carney / 953WDAE.com)
PORT CHARLOTTE (WDAE) -- The 2020 Spring Training schedule officially kicked off Wednesday, as pitchers and catchers had to officially report to the team's facility in Port Charlotte to get ready for the regular season. And while the team roster for 2020 is different than the 96-win club from 2019, other changes have been made around the ballpark.
The covered batting cages next to Field 5 at Charlotte Sports Park, which had chain link fence surrounding them in the past, has been fully enclosed, and a new athletic performance center has been built behind Field 4.
But on the field, it's time to start building on a 2019 campaign that ended with a loss in Game 5 of the American League Division Series to the Houston Astros. But the 2020 camp roster contains a number of players that the coaches and manager Kevin Cash aren't familiar with and where they might fit into the puzzle. But Cash feels that process shouldn't take long.
"I don't think we've put a ton of thought into that yet. We'll start thinking those things as we leading up into games," Cash said Tuesday in his Spring Training press conference. "Early on in Spring Training, you play a day, you sit a day. It'll be pretty easy to get the guys in."
Among the players the coaching staff will have to get acquainted with is outfielder Manuel Margot, just acquired from San Diego Saturday for reliever Emilio Pagan. Cash feels that the 25-year-old will fit right in with the group.
"Very Rays player," Cash said of Margot. "Plays great defense, does some special things on the bases, and offensively, he certainly has held his own, and might have room to continue."
And while camp has officially started, general manager Erik Neander isn't ruling out the possibility of more personnel moves, though they aren't currently working on any at the moment.
"I thought we were probably done [making moves] a week and a half ago and we weren't," Neander said. "We feel good about where we're at. I can confidently say there's nothing active at the moment, but it's also our job to be in tune with what's going on out there: if there's activity, if there's trade conversations going, if there's opportunities through free agency. Whatever it may be for some of the guys still looking for opportunities in to camp here. We have to be prepared. We have to be on top of that, and if there's something that can help us, we'll be ready to go."
Listen to the entire press conference below!
THURSDAY: The first scheduled workout for pitchers and catchers will take place at Charlotte Sports Park. The practice will begin at 11:00, will last about 90 minutes, and is free and open to the public.
IMPORTANT DATES UPCOMING:
Tuesday, February 18 - first full-squad workout
Saturday, February 22 - Rays Grapefruit League opener at Boston (Fort Myers)
Sunday, February 23 - Rays Grapefruit League home opener vs NY Yankees