Well, it was another nice day at the Rays Training Camp today. It started out a little chilly, but by 10 am, the Florida sun was shining bright!
A lot more kids today, each with a glove in one hand and pen in the other. As the players rotated from field to field, the kids would all make a mad dash for the players crossing section in an attempt to snag an autograph from their favorite Ray.
The day started out with some fielding. Each field had three coaches hitting balls in three different directions. It was like a precise machine to watch and you definitely understood the meaning of the word “pro”. They worked on forward and back hand fielding, double plays, off balance plays and check runner throws to first. Outfielder’s had a meeting on field 5 and then worked on some distance throwing.
Today was the first day of live batting practice. Some of the upcoming pitchers gave the boys some of their good stuff and the home run derby we’ve had for the last few days was quickly over. A few went out, but not like in past days. From the angle I was standing, you could see some nasty breaking balls going across the plate. I think the guys knew what to expect today, because they had no players shagging balls in the outfield.
After one full rotation of live pitching, they went back to normal BP, which then opened up the dinger factory. Gabe Gross was the winner today. Just about every ball hit by Gross was a rocket to the yard. New TB Ray, Adam Kennedy was looking good at the bat today also.
A few close calls today for the fans. The food/store is right in foul ball central. If I heard heads up once today, I heard it a thousand times. Unaware fans would get a huge surprise when a stray rocket went off course. Fans would scatter, hide, duct and run for cover as the ball hit the concrete wall and pray that the ball bounced some where other than towards them. However, the kids had the whole thing down to a science and would scoop the balls up like pro’s.
After practice was over at around 1pm, I stopped to get gas down the street from the park and here comes BJ Upton and Scott Kazmir pulling up to get some air in Scott’s tire. BJ said “hey man, nice hat”! And, I said “Yo BJ!!, what’s up man” He said “nothing man, were just headed home”. We talked for bit and then went on our way….Isn’t that cool? Two of the best baseball players in the world right here in my home town…it just doesn’t get any better than that!
It was a beautiful spring training day at the park. It was mildly windy and burrrrr….Cold!
Today was take it to the yard day! Pat Burrel hit one shot today that never made it more than 20 feet off the ground and went 50 feet past the fence into the pond.
Also Longo, Zobie, Pena, Gross, Navi and some others were just absolutely crushing the ball today!
They had some bunting drills going on which was good to see. That is one area they showed some signs of weakness last year.
During BP, the guys would practice leads from third between bats. A good lead off third, taging up on a fly and off to home on good shot!
Some of the infielders got a chance to take batting practice on the main field today. Evan Longoria said it was “awesome and well groomed” Opening day is less than one week away.
Navi was sneaking kids onto the field to get balls in the corner of the field at batting practice. When the gaurd wasn’t looking, he would yell go, go go! The kids were really excited as they ran onto the field. Even some adult’s tried to sneak on, but would get caught every time. I think the gaurd had a weak eye for the kids
One fan made a make shift fishing pole to retrieve baseball’s close to the fence. He was the hit of the day! All the kids surrounded him asking,” get one for me, get one for me”!.
Were you there! NO?? Well, get your butt down to the park and support your AL Champs!!
The New Rays Stadium at Charlotte Sports Park is just about complete. Building crews of local General Contractor, Taylor Construction are putting the final touches on the new state of the art baseball staduim in Port Charlotte, Florida.
The stadium has five practice feilds, batting cages, huge club house, new admin building, a boardwalk that goes completely around the field, sky boxes, new concessions, tiki bar, kids zone, berm seating, nice big seats with cup holders on every level and tons more!
Below you’ll find a link to a live, controlable carmera feed at the park. Earlier today, I found the “boss man” himself walking the park with the project manager and staff. Here are some photo’s that I captured from that live feed…..enjoy!
Special password cards are available at the Charlotte Stone Crabs offices at Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte, Fla. 33948. Fans interested in obtaining the password cards will need to pick up a password card, based on availability, on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the password card will enable the user to have the opportunity to purchase four tickets for each Spring Training game, during the Jan. 7 online presale, beginning at 9 a.m., based on availability.
OTHER WAYS TO PURCHASE TICKETS
Beginning on Jan. 10 at 9 a.m., tickets will be available through the following:
Tickets by Phone: 888-FAN-RAYS
Tickets in Person: Charlotte Sports Park 2300 El Jobean Rd. Port Charlotte, FL 33948
Tropicana Field, Gate 1 One Tropicana Drive St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Rays Tampa Store 400 N. Tampa St. Tampa, FL 33602
Are you ready for a short trip to see some longballs this spring? Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training and other area MLB team tickets are available now!
The Rays will be battling teams like the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, and the New York Yankees in exhibition preseason action in March. Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte will fill up fast when these teams come to play, so secure your tickets today.
Jim Morrison will remain in his spot as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays’ Class-A- Advanced affiliate as he makes the move from Vero Beach to Port Charlotte. Joining him in the dugout will be pitching coach Bill Moloney, hitting coach Joe Szekely and trainer Chris Tomashoff.
Morrison enters his 25th season in professional baseball and third season in the Rays’ organization after managing the Vero Beach Devil Rays last year and the Class-A Columbus Catfish the season prior when he led the Catfish to the 2007 South Atlantic League title. He also served stints as a roving infield instructor, coach and manager in the Philadelphia Phillies organization for seven years (2000-06)
Before entering the coaching ranks in 2000, Morrison enjoyed a 15-year playing career as an infielder, including 12 major league seasons with the Phillies, White Sox, Pirates, Tigers and Braves before retiring in 1988. In 1,089 career games, he batted .260 with 112 home runs and 371 RBIs. He currently resides in Bradenton, Fla.
Bill Moloney enter his third season as a pitching coach in the Rays’ organization after spending the previous two seasons with the Class-A Columbus Catfish. His 23-year coaching career includes stints with the Cincinnati Reds (2001-06) and Boston Red Sox (1995-2000). In 2002, his Class-A Stockton staff led the California League with a 3.20 ERA and 12 shutouts.
Prior to coaching, Moloney pitched in the Red Sox minor league system from 1979-1984 and reached Triple-A Pawtucket before suffering a significant finger injury that ended his playing career. He spent the next 11 years as the Red Sox batting practice pitcher before making his coaching debut in 1995 with Class-A Michigan. Moloney played baseball at Lowell High School in Massachusetts where he led the nation with a 1.00 ERA his senior year.
Joe Szekely will join the club as hitting coach after managing the Rookie-level Princeton Devil Rays last year. He enters his fifth season in the Rays’ organization with the previous four years spent as a manager with four different teams. He previously managed at the Class A-Advanced level in 2007 when he led Vero Beach to a 59-79 record. He also managed Class A-Visalia in 2006 and Class-A Southwestern Michigan in 2005.
Szekely spent six seasons with the Kansas City Royals organization before joining the Rays in 2005. Before coaching, he played 11 Minor League seasons for four different organizations
Rounding out the coaching staff is trainer Chris Tomashoff who enters his 14th year in the Rays’ organization. Tomashoff spent the previous three seasons as the assistant athletic training coordinator for the Rays’ minor league system. In 2004, he was named the California League Trainer of the Year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society. He studied sports medicine at the University of Washington and has sung the National Anthem at both spring training and regular season Rays games the past four seasons.
The American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays today announced their 2009 Spring Training schedule as well as pricing options for the 16 home games at the newly renovated Charlotte Sports Park. In their inaugural spring in Charlotte County, Fla., the Rays will open the season at home on Wednesday, February 25 against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Rays Grapefruit League home schedule includes two games against the Boston Red Sox (February 27 and March 7) and one each against the Philadelphia Phillies (March 12) in a rematch of the 2008 World Series, and New York Yankees (March 22). The Rays will also host the St. Louis Cardinals on March 19 in the first spring training game between these two teams since 1998 and the Puerto Rican National Team in a precursor to the World Baseball Classic on March 4.
In addition, the Rays will visit Philadelphia to play two more games in the Phillies’ annual “On-Deck Series” April 3-4 at Citizens Bank Park before opening the regular season April 6 at Boston.
Rays home games will start at 1:05 p.m. with the exception of two games which will begin at 7:05 p.m.: March 4 vs. the Puerto Rico National Team and March 25 vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Individual ticket prices will range from $9 to $23, keeping Spring Training a fun and affordable way of seeing the Rays up close.
Fans interested in season tickets will enjoy discounted ticket prices from the same seat at each game. Individuals interested in placing a $50 deposit for Spring Training Season Tickets can do so by visiting http://www.raysbaseball.com/charlottecounty. All individuals who have placed a deposit will be contacted to select their seats by early December.
The opening of Rays Spring Training camp will mark the return of baseball to Charlotte County for the first time since the Texas Rangers left the site after the 2002 season. The state-of-the-art facility contains over 5,000 fixed seats and has additional berm seating along the first and third base lines, group party areas and a renovated suite level. A 360-degree pedestrian concourse rings the entire stadium.
In addition to functioning as the Spring Training complex for Rays major and minor leaguers, the facility will operate year-round. The 5½-field complex will accommodate extended Spring Training for the Rays and will be home to the Rays new Class-A Florida State League affiliate, the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
The Charlotte Stone Crabs unveiled their logo and jersey designs with some help from members of the Charlotte County Boys and Girls Club at the Port Charlotte Town Center mall in Port Charlotte, Fla.
The newest member of the Florida State League showed off their new logo to a crowd of more than 350 fans as members of the Boys and Girls Club helped model t-shirts and hats. Limited quantities of merchandise were available for sale at the event and sold out immediately.
“We continue to have big milestones every week, and this is certainly our biggest,” said Joe Hart, general manager of the Stone Crabs. “After seeing the success of the unveiling event and the tremendous response from the Charlotte County community, this just adds to the excitement and momentum heading into 2009.”
The team’s primary logo features the local stone crab with its signature large, crusher claw and the familiar sunburst that was part of the Tampa Bay Rays new logo at the start of the 2008 season. The Stone Crabs home and road jerseys and home team hats also resemble their major league counterparts’ in design and color scheme.
Since the Stone Crabs announcement as the third Minor League team owned by Ripken Baseball in late August, the team has sold more than 800 full season seats and recently opened up group ticket options in addition to their Full Season, Half-Season and 10-Game Mini Plans. They will open their inaugural season at the Charlotte Sports Park on April 9 when they face off against nearby Fort Myers and make the Miracle look ordinary.
Charlotte Sports Park (formerly Charlotte County Stadium) was originally constructed in 1987 as the spring training facility for the Texas Rangers and served in that capacity until the team moved to Surprise, Ariz. in 2002.
During the Rangers’ tenure, the stadium was also home to the Charlotte Rangers, the Single-A Texas affiliate that played in the Florida State League. When the major league team left in 2002, the minor league affiliate left with them, leaving Charlotte County without baseball until the Charlotte County Redfish occupied the stadium during the summer of 2007.
Charlotte Sports Park was not without a tenant for long though. In 2006, The Tampa Bay Rays announced that they would move their spring training to Port Charlotte in 2009 and signed a 20-year agreement with the city, thus guaranteeing baseball in the Charlotte County community until at least 2029. Renovations estimated at more than $27 million started in summer 2008 with plans for the Rays to host spring training beginning in March 2009.
On August 25, 2008, the Rays announced that they would partner with Ripken Baseball to purchase and move their Single-A affiliate from Vero Beach to Charlotte County. Not only would the Rays move their spring training to Port Charlotte, but their High-A affiliate would also play its home games at Charlotte Sports Park starting in April 2009.
The team name of the minor league affiliate has not been announced, but renovations are currently underway at the stadium in preparation for the 2009 season.