Ping-pong table sparks clubhouse camaraderie

Ping-pong table sparks clubhouse camaraderie

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Atlanta Falcons may have lost the Super Bowl, but they helped deliver the Rays a brand new addition to their clubhouse this spring: a ping-pong table.

"[The Falcons] brought in a ping-pong table, and then all of a sudden, they ended up ordering five because it became such a good [time]. The guys were having fun kidding around with each other, " manager Kevin Cash said.

Cash read an article about how ping pong helped facilitate chemistry with the Falcons, and he hopes it helps his team in the same way, especially given all the new additions to the Rays' roster.

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"We got a lot of new faces here," Cash said. "If that can help us have a little more fun off the field and do some things like that, then why not? It's ping pong. The interaction definitely was a part."

"I think it's a great idea. Any way we can get guys closer together and create chemistry is a great idea," said Steven Souza Jr. 

The leader in the clubhouse early this spring is newly acquired pitcher Tommy Hunter, who admits he loves ping pong so much that he has a Forrest Gump-like contraption at home where he can practice while hitting many balls at once. His teammates have taken notice.

"Tommy Hunter is really good. I played against him yesterday, and he beat me a couple times," Evan Longoria said.

Hunter isn't buying the hype.

"I'm not the best in the clubhouse, I'll get beat quite a bit, but I enjoy playing and have fun messing around with the guys," Hunter said.

Cash expects the new clubhouse addition to build chemistry and competition.

"I've already gone in there and seen some of the guys play. I imagine some will say they're the best, and they'll start [teasing] each other."

"At the end of the day, I might be the best," Longoria said.

The Rays' third baseman has the support of his teammates, including Souza.

"Longo is good at everything, so he'll be really great," said Souza.

Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.