Rays' 1st spring workout dates announced

Strong pitching has been a staple for the Rays for years, and it promises once again to be a strength in 2016. Tampa Bay's collection of quality arms is scheduled to take the field for the first time officially on Feb. 21 in Port Charlotte, Fla.

Major League Baseball on Monday announced Spring Training workout dates for all 30 clubs. The Rays' pitchers and catchers begin workouts on Feb. 21, and full-squad drills are set for Feb. 26 at the Charlotte Sports Park.

Manager Kevin Cash, entering his second season, guided Tampa Bay to an 80-82 record in 2015.

The Rays are expected to be competitive in 2016 largely because of their pitching and defense. Last season, the club's 3.74 ERA was fourth best in the American League.

Chris Archer, the 27-year-old ace, had a 3.23 ERA with 252 strikeouts in 212 innings.

This year, Tampa Bay's rotation will get a boost with the return of Alex Cobb from Tommy John surgery.

The Rays have some of the top defensive players in the Majors. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was a Gold Glove Award winner in 2015, and third baseman Evan Longoria was a Gold Glove Award finalist.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.