Rays take on A's in weekend series; celebrate inaugural "Pay Ball Weekend"

Following a six-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Rays return to Tropicana Field on Friday to begin a three-game series (May 13-15) against the Oakland Athletics. Tickets to these dates and all Rays 2016 home games can be purchased online at raysbaseball.com, at the Rays Tampa Store at 400 N. Tampa St., the Tropicana Field Box Office or by calling 888-FAN-RAYS.

On Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15, the Rays will celebrate the inaugural "PLAY BALL WEEKEND," a league-wide effort by MLB and all 30 clubs to engage young baseball fans and celebrate the continued support of youth participation in baseball and softball. Rays players will wear a special PLAY BALL T-shirt during batting practice and a patch on their uniforms for both Saturday's and Sunday's games.

The Rays have a number of special activities planned in the ballpark in conjunction with "PLAY BALL WEEKEND." On Saturday morning, the Rays are hosting PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth), a free fitness seminar for kids ages 11-16, which will feature Logan Forsythe and Rays Athletic Trainers. In addition, local youth players will take the field with the big leaguers just moments before first pitch on Saturday and Sunday to participate in a cap exchange on the field.

Also on Saturday and Sunday, fans are encouraged to bring new or used equipment to Gates 1 and 5 as part of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund equipment drive, which benefits the Tampa RBI program. Fans who donate will receive a voucher for one complimentary ticket to a future Rays game.

When gates open prior to Saturday's 6:10 p.m. game, all fans will receive a Fedora presented by Moffitt Cancer Center. That morning, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria will participate in Moffitt's walk/run fundraiser for the fourth consecutive year. The following day, Sunday, May 15, as part of the "PLAY BALL WEEKEND" celebration, all kids 14 and under will receive a Plastic Bat and Ball Set presented by Chevrolet. All Rays promotional items are available while supplies last.

Rays Family Fun Days, presented by Tampa General Hospital, continue on Sunday, May 15. Every Sunday home game this season will feature free parking for cars with four or more passengers and a variety of postgame activities for kids, including Kids Run the Bases and a DJ Kitty Dance Party featuring mascots and entertainers. For the third consecutive season, concourse activities will be complimentary for kids 14 and under. Activities include the Grand Slam Alley, Power Alley Batting Cage, Speed Pitch, Raymond's Art Studio and Topps Make Your Own Baseball Card. Extra entertainers will also perform on Sundays, including face painters, airbrush tattoo artists, magicians, caricaturists, stilt walkers, jugglers and balloon artists.

The Rays are also offering new weekday specials throughout the season including:

  • Monday-Military Monday, presented by the Tampa Bay Times: For all active-duty military, retired and honorably discharged veterans, the Rays will offer two free tickets for all Monday home games and eight additional bonus dates throughout the season. The Rays are also extending this courtesy to dependents of military personnel including any spouse, child or widow. Military affiliation will be verified through ID.me, a third-party MLB-approved verification service.
  • Tuesday-$2 Kids Ticket Tuesday, presented by Morgan Auto Group: For all Tuesday home games, tickets for kids 14 and under are $2 with the purchase of a full-priced adult ticket.
  • Wednesday-$2 Hot Dog Wednesday, presented by Kayem Franks: For all Wednesday home games, all-beef hot dogs and 24 oz. Pepsi product fountain drinks at concession stands are just $2 each. A total of 30,360 hot dogs have been sold during the first four Wednesdays of the season.
  • Thursday-Senior Special, presented by Duke Energy: For all Thursday home games, Press Level tickets for fans 60 years of age or older are only $15.
  • Friday-Student Rush, presented by Papa John's: For all Friday home games, students (18 and over) with a valid high school or college ID can purchase lower level tickets for $15.

SILVERMAN, SMYLY COMING TO THE REPUBLIC BANK DRAFT ROOM-On Saturday, May 14, from 5:35-5:50 p.m., Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman will participate in a Q&A session in the Republic Bank Draft Room Season Ticket Club, the new, exclusive area for full season ticket holders which blends hospitality and comfort with behind-the-scenes access to Rays staff, players and coaches. On Sunday, May 15, from 12:15-12:45 p.m., Rays pitcher Drew Smyly will visit the club.

GRANT BALFOUR TO THROW FIRST PITCH-Prior to Sunday afternoon's game, former Rays relief pitcher Grant Balfour is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The right-handed pitcher played a key role in the Rays ascension from last place in 2007 to the American League pennant in 2008. In 51 appearances out of the bullpen during that magical season, Balfour had six wins and pitched to a team-best 1.54 ERA. During his six years in Tampa Bay, he averaged more than a strikeout per inning and his 274 appearances are third in club history. He helped lead the Rays to their first two postseason berths and pitched in 13 postseason games, tied for most in franchise history.

GATES OPEN-Monday through Thursday, 1½ hours prior to game time; Friday through Sunday, two hours prior to game time.