Rays energized as pitchers, catchers take field

'I feel like we're a better club this year,' president of baseball ops Silverman says

Rays energized as pitchers, catchers take field

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Spring Training officially began Sunday morning, when the Rays' pitchers and catchers took the field for their first workout.

The workout kicked off the team's 19th camp and eighth in Charlotte County.

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Second-year manager Kevin Cash and his staff welcomed 40 pitchers and catchers to Charlotte Sports Park, and they took the field at 9:30 a.m. ET.

"There's a lot of energy, whereas last year there was more shaking hands and introducing [ourselves]," Cash said. "... I think everybody was eager to get out there."

Cash did not make a speech to the team on Sunday, offering only a welcome. He plans to address the whole team prior to the first full-squad workout on Friday when the camp expands to 64 players, including 23 non-roster invitees.

"There will be a message [on Friday], but it will be a brief one," Cash said.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., the 2016 Rays Fan Fest kicks off at Tropicana Field, and the Rays will play their Grapefruit League opener against the Nationals on March 2 at Charlotte Sports Park.

New faces to join the 40-man roster include first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce, catcher Hank Conger, outfielder Corey Dickerson, outfielder/first baseman Logan Morrison, shortstop Brad Miller and right-handers Danny Farquhar and Ryan Webb.

Key losses to the team include shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera; designated hitter John Jaso; outfielders Daniel Nava, Grady Sizemore and Joey Butler; catcher J.P. Arencibia; right-handers Brandon Gomes and Nathan Karns; and left-handers Jake McGee and C.J. Riefenhauser.

Despite the changes, enthusiasm is prevalent.

"I feel like we're a better club this year," said Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman. "Last year, the injury bug really got us. … But I look at the club this year and feel like the overall talent level is higher. The talent is there. The belief is there within the clubhouse, and it's just a matter of going out there and winning ballgames.''

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.