ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The Rays closed out an abbreviated spring training slate on Wednesday with a 9-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. For the players, who normally have about two months of spring training, it was the end of a very quick three-week ramp-up to the regular season.
“I think I like the shortened spring training,” said Rays outfielder Brett Phillips. “I don’t know about the pitchers but if you were to ask the position players, I’m sure you’d get a collective group of ‘okays’ on the shortened spring training. As for the season, I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, with the circumstances of the offseason, I’m just excited to be back. I’m thankful and back to doing what I love.”
“It got here quick,” said Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. “It was a great three weeks down there in Port Charlotte. (We) got a lot of really good work in. I can’t speak for everyone but I’m ready to go. I’ve already got butterflies showing-up here today. This is what you play for and we’ve got 162 scheduled, so the long haul starts now.”
The Major League Baseball lockout was the cause of everything being pushed back and condensed, with less than a month between the end of the lockout to the start of the season. It also caused the first two series to be canceled, meaning the Rays originally scheduled home opener is now their season opener.
“It feels really good to get back in the Trop,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash ahead of their final exhibition game Wednesday at Tropicana Field. “It feels a little more normal (of a) setting. (We) appreciate Port Charlotte but every time it gets towards the end, you get excited to get back home. We’re fortunate as one of the few clubs that can just drive an hour and 20 minutes to get here.”
The Rays will host the Baltimore Orioles in their first game of the season Friday at Tropicana Field, with former USF pitcher Shane McClanahan on the mound. This will be McClanahan’s first Opening Day roster, as he becomes the youngest Rays Opening Day starter since 2007.
McClanahan is one of the many returners for the Rays, who have also added a few new faces to their roster.
The team also acquired outfielder Harold Ramirez in a trade with the Cubs and outfielder Luke Raley in a trade with the Dodgers, and also signed right-handed pitchers Corey Kluber and Jason Adam to name a few.