ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-The Tampa Bay Rays will begin their 18th spring training and seventh in Charlotte County on Monday, February 23 when first-year Manager Kevin Cash and his staff welcome 38 pitchers and catchers to Charlotte Sports Park. The players will take the field at 9:30 a.m. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for February 28 when the camp expands to 62 players, including 22 non-roster invites. For all spring training workouts, admission and parking are free.
There will be many new faces. In his first 92 days as President of Baseball Operations, Matt Silverman engineered seven trades involving a total of 30 players; added two major league free agents; signed all eight arbitration eligible players prior to the exchange deadline; and hired a rookie major league manager and two major league coaches.
Eleven players on the 40-man roster were not in the organization when the Rays opened spring training camp last year on February 15, and eight have joined the organization since the end of the 2014 regular season. Thirty-two of the 40 players on the current roster made their Rays debut in 2012 or later.
The Rays will begin their defense of the Grapefruit League crown on Thursday, March 5 vs. the Baltimore Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park. In 2014, the Rays had Major League Baseball's best spring training record (16-7-4), and their Grapefruit League title was their third in the last seven seasons, following 2008 and 2010. Since 2008, the Rays have the majors' fourth-best record in the regular season and the fourth best record in spring training play. Since becoming the Rays in 2008, the team has recorded at least 15 wins in six out of seven spring trainings. They had never achieved this in 10 springs as the Devil Rays.
On Friday, March 6 prior to the Rays vs. Minnesota Twins game at Charlotte Sports Park, the Rays will continue their annual tradition of shaving their heads as part of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation's "Cut for a Cure." For the fourth consecutive year, Rays coaches, players and front office staff will shave their heads to pay tribute to children fighting cancer. To show support for a player or participant, the public is encouraged to text "PCF" to 20222 to make a $10 donation or visit pcfcutforacure.org. Fans will be able to shave their heads with the Rays that day and receive a "Rays Cut for a Cure" T-shirt for a $100 donation. That game will also be the 500th spring training game in club history.