A baseball blog by Roger Mooney
Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald.
For the second consecutive spring, the Rays will provide jerseys and caps to more than 5,500 T-ball players and coaches for more than 50 Little Leagues from nine surrounding districts. The program reaches Little League T-ball teams in Charlotte, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.
The Rays kick off the initiative the weekend of Feb. 7-8 when the team will distribute the uniforms and conduct clinics for the T-ball players and coaches.
Manager Kevin Cash, who played on the Northside Little League team that represented Tampa in the 1989 Little League World Series, will address the coaches on Feb. 7. Rays pitchers Grant Balfour and Jake Odorrizi will help conduct clinics for the kids on Feb. 8.
BY ROGER MOONEY
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, in an phone interview with the Tampa Tribune, said he shares the vision of Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg that a major league franchise can thrive in the Tampa area.
“I think with the right facility Tampa Bay can be a vibrant major league market,” Manfred said Friday.
The Rays will continue to raise money and awareness for children battling cancer when coaches, players and front office staff shave their heads prior to the March 6 game against the Twins at Charlotte Sports Park.
All proceeds benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s “Cut for a Cure” program.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the cause can make a $10 donation by texting “PCF” to 20222 or visit www.pcfcutforacure.org.
The Tampa Bay Rays announced their minor league coaching staff. Here is the release ...
The Durham Bulls (AAA) will be managed by Devil Rays and Bulls alumnus Jared Sandberg, who takes the reigns from Charlie Montoyo, the winningest manager in Bulls history, after Montoyo’s promotion to the major league coaching staff. The former infielder will oversee Durham’s International League South title defense in his 20th season in professional baseball and seventh as a manager in the Rays organization. Sandberg managed Charlotte in 2014 after guiding Bowling Green to the Midwest League playoffs in 2013 and winning the New York-Penn League title with Hudson Valley in 2012. Kyle Snyder joins the Bulls staff in his fourth year with the Rays after serving as a pitching coordinator in 2014. He replaces Neil Allen, who was named pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins. Snyder reunites with Sandberg, for whom he served as pitching coach at Bowling Green and Hudson Valley. Coach Dave Myers returns for his seventh year with the Rays organization, all with the Bulls. Athletic trainer Mike Sandoval also returns for his fourth year with Durham. Conditioning coach Bryan King returns for a second straight season after five seasons as the Toronto Blue Jays major league strength and conditioning coach.
The Montgomery Biscuits (AA) will be managed by Brady Williams, who returns for a second season in Montgomery. This will be his 10th year in the Rays organization. Pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein returns for a fourth season with the Biscuits and his 11th in the Rays organization. Coach Ozzie Timmons, a Tampa native and former Rays outfielder, begins his seventh year in Montgomery and ninth coaching in the Rays organization. Athletic trainer Kris Russell, who was named Southern League Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2014, starts his fourth year with Montgomery.
By Roger Mooney
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are expected to officially announce their minor league coaching staff this week, but Class A Charlotte sent out a release Wednesday morning announcing Michael Johns as the new Stone Crabs manager, replacing Jared Sandberg.
Sandberg was promoted to Triple A, where he will take over as manager of the Durham Bulls after long-time Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo was hired as the Rays third base coach.
Joining Johns in Port Charlotte are pitching coach Steve Watson, hitting coach Joe Szekely, and trainer Scott Thurston.
The Rays Baseball Foundation is accepting applications for its Community Fund Grant Program.
The Rays Baseball Foundation Community Fund Grant Program provides financial support to local nonprofit institutions in the Tampa Bay region. These funds support current youth and/or education programs offered by community-based nonprofit organizations.
Grants averaging $5,000 are awarded through this program.
By Roger Mooney
Update: The Rays and CF Desmond Jennings reached an agreement on a one-year, $3.1 million deal for 2015, according to a team source. Jennings made $517,000 last season.
The Rays have until 1 p.m. today to reach agreements one one-year deals with their eight arbitration-eligible players. If not, the two sides will head to an arbitration hearing in February.
The Rays traditionally avoid arbitration with their eligible players. The club will not negotiate past today’s deadline, so any player who rejects a deal is headed to arbitration. The Rays, under the current ownership, are 5-0 in arbitration hearings.
The 2015 Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21 at Tropicana Field. Admission and parking are free.
Activities for include “Reading with the Rays,” photos with Rays mascot Raymond and DJ Kitty, baseball activities for all ages and appearances by Rays players and coaches at various stations.
More event details will be released in February.
Here are bios put together by the Rays PR staff on the two minor league prospects acquired Saturday from the A’s in the Ben Zobrist/Yunel Escobar trade.
Daniel Robertson, 20, was recently rated the No. 1 prospect in the A’s system by both Baseball America and MLB.com. He spent the 2014 season with Class-A Stockton, batting .310 (170-for-548) with 15 home runs and 60 RBI in 132 regular-season games, and earning a promotion to Double-A Midland for its playoff run. He ranked among California League leaders in batting average(sixth), hits (first), doubles (37, tied for first), on-base percentage (.402, fourth), runs scored (110, second) and total bases (258, fifth). Following the season, Robertson hit .301 (22-for-73) with one home run and 12 RBI in 20 games with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, played in the AFL Rising Stars Game and was named to the AFL’s Top Prospects Team. He was originally selected in the supplemental first round (34th overall) of the 2012 June Draft.
Boog Powell, who turns 22 on Wednesday, was recently ranked the No. 11 prospect in the A’s system by MLB.com. He split the 2014 season between Class-A Beloit and Stockton, led the A’s system with a .343 batting average (108-for-315) and .451 on-base percentage, and drew 61 walks to 53 strikeouts. After earning Top Star honors at the Midwest League All-Star Game, he served a 50-game suspension for a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and returned in late August. Powell hit .300 (21-for-70) with two home runs and 10 RBI in 21 games for Mesa in the AFL following the season. Despite his nickname of Boog, he has no relation to the former major league first baseman of the same name.
Single-game tickets for the Rays spring training games at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte go on sale, based upon availability, according to the following schedule:
Friday, January 16: Spring training tickets go on sale online to the general public exclusively at raysbaseball.com at 10 a.m.
Saturday, January 17: Spring training tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. via phone at 888-FAN-RAYS or 1-800-745-3000, online at raysbaseball.com, or at the following locations: