Souza eager, ready to make his spring debut

Rays outfielder may see action in the field or as DH against Blue Jays

Souza eager, ready to make his spring debut

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. is ready to make his Spring Training debut.

Souza took batting practice on the field for the third consecutive day -- and his fifth consecutive day of BP overall -- on Tuesday. He took BP two days in the enclosed hitting facility and everything went well, paving the way for him to make his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday at Port Charlotte.

Rays manager Kevin Cash would not commit to Souza playing on Wednesday, though.

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"It's tough to say that until he passes all of the training staff's progressive steps," Cash said.

Souza has been slowed by a left intercostal strain. He accompanied the Rays to Lakeland on Tuesday just to take batting practice. Souza batted in four rounds, hitting to the opposite field in the first three rounds before starting to clear the outfield wall in his fourth round.

"I feel great, it just feels really good," Souza said. "Not only to be out on the field taking BP. The intercostal wasn't even a thought in the back of my mind. To be out of Port Charlotte taking BP at an away stadium feels good, too. So we're ready to go for tomorrow."

Souza does not know whether he will play in the field or if he will be used as the DH in Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m. ET.

"This was the third day on the field," Souza said. "You know, when you get on the field, as much as you try to eliminate it, you can get a little adrenaline, especially with the crowd behind you. So just to make sure three days on the field, turning up the energy a little bit. I didn't tweak anything. So after five days of BP and three on the field, we're a full go."

Souza felt a twinge in the intercostal area of his left side while taking batting practice prior to the official opening of Spring Training. Ever since he reported discomfort, the training staff has prescribed a cautious approach, which appears to have paid off.

"That patience early paid off," Souza said. "Because there were some times when I felt like I could have been a little father ahead than I was. But the full training staff did an amazing job of pulling me back and saying, 'We have time.' And 'We're going to be OK.' And after I see it right now getting ready to play, I see it was a great job."

Souza is eager to start playing in games.

"I love this game, I really do," he said. "I feel like I've been blessed to play this game. I love getting out and going to new parks. I'm excited. I'm excited for the whole team. ... I'm excited to get on the field for myself. But just watching these guys play every day, I'm just excited to join the fun."

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