Rays tackling logistics for upcoming Cuba trip

Rays tackling logistics for upcoming Cuba trip

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Cash told reporters Saturday there were still "a ton of moving pieces" for his club, as far as dealing with the trip to Cuba is concerned.

"Tomorrow, for example, we have a game against the Orioles, then we have another full lineup facing Drew Smyly here [in Port Charlotte] and then when we get back there's a Trop workout, a night game [Thursday against the Yankees in Tampa]," the Rays manager said. "So there's a ton of moving pieces, but as far as being in Cuba, we feel pretty good about where we're at and how that is going to go."

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Cash was asked if he'd done much research on Cuba in advance of the historic trip.

"I looked up the hotel, which seems like a beautiful place we're staying," Cash said. "They had a big aerial view of the water and everything. And then we've talked about that place, the Hot Corner [a local sports bar], that is supposed to be baseball-heavy, a lot of fans there.

"So I'm sure we'll go over and visit that. I know a lot of the guys are excited just to get out on the tour bus. It's like a two- or three-hour tour-bus ride just to go see all of it, but as far as research, that's as far as it's gone."

• Cuba trip 'a special moment' for Rays, MLB

Rays traveling secretary Chris Westmoreland allowed that making arrangements for the team's trip has been the biggest challenge he's had since assuming the position prior to the 2014 season.

"Just because of the numbers," Westmoreland said. "I wasn't [the traveling secretary] when we went to the World Series, I helped [the former traveling secretary] a little bit. So I got a taste of what he went through. Just the number of people from the front office and our players. And the uncertaintly of who's on the roster and who's not, and all of that. But overall, it's been a pretty good learning experience."

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Westmoreland said having to deal with 145 travelers was the most difficult component of the preparation.

"MLB International really spearheaded working with us trying to figure out hotels, and daily schedules, and things like that," Westmoreland said. "So I have to give a lot of credit to them. I really just put our names of our parties in their formula, basically."

Bags under Westmoreland's eyes personified his pursuit the past several months.

"I think [the bags are] due to the fact that, with a trip like this, every detail matters for obvious reasons," Westmoreland said. "And I'm constantly wondering if I missed a detail."

• Rays players, coaches anticipate Cuba venture

Westmoreland noted that being able to go to Cuba in advance of the trip helps.

"I was able to go down to Cuba and kind of experience what we, as a team, would go through," Westmoreland said. "So that was definitely an advantage. You know, seeing the airport, seeing how they do their thing. The locals. The stadium, the whole logisitical pattern. ... It's interesting, for sure."

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