PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Though they didn't have as much practice time as usual this spring due to the World Baseball Classic, the Rays are still anxious to get the "games" portion of Spring Training underway.
"We are. Obviously the longer spring allows us to kind of pace some guys a little bit more," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We'll see a couple of the regulars starting out early but there is probably gonna be more that will be at a slower pace and won't see them in games for a week or so."
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Tampa Bay kicks off its schedule with a Friday night game in Fort Myers against the Twins. First pitch is set for 7:05 ET.
Leading those regulars who will be rested early on is Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who is back at practice but was out sick for the first two days of the week. Along with Longoria, the Rays will rest a quartet of veterans in first baseman Logan Morrison, shortstop Matt Duffy, and outfielders Colby Rasmus and Steven Souza.
Other regulars will jump right in the mix on Friday. Corey Dickerson and Tim Beckham are on the travel roster, but perhaps the most interesting spring debut will be that of former shortstop and first baseman Brad Miller, who shifted to second base. It's a position change new relative to the Rays but not new to Miller, who the team feels is off to a great start
"Brad has played second base enough throughout his career that I think he's comfortable over there," Cash said " He's looked tremendous. He could really have an elite season at that spot."
"I've played there before so it's nothing crazy," Miller said. "I think I'm more excited just to actually be playing baseball. First game or not, I'm ready to go and it's the next step kind of in that spring training process. Getting our feet under us,seeing some pitchers and now we get to go out and actually play a game, so the fun begins."
Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com based in Tampa Bay. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.