Tampa mayor takes BP, praises Rays

Tampa mayor takes BP, praises Rays

Tampa mayor takes BP, praises Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- The last time Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he took batting practice was when he was 12 or 13.

That was 40 years ago.

Buckhorn was on hand to take batting practice at Tropicana Field before Friday's game between the Rays and Mariners, and he said he felt like he made some good cuts.

"I felt great," Buckhorn said. "I got a little wood on the ball."

The mayor is no stranger to the Rays or Tropicana Field, having previously thrown out the first pitch. With concerns about whether the current ballpark is a viable long-term home for the club, Buckhorn said he wouldn't mind doing drills in a facility across the bay.

"It would be a great honor to have batting practice at a Rays facility in Tampa," Buckhorn said. "The Rays and St. Pete have to resolve their differences, and if they can't, we will be ready. ... A lot of people care about what happens."

If Buckhorn was certain about one thing, it was that the team will be in either St. Petersburg or Tampa for years to come, saying there was no chance the two cities would let the team relocate from the community anytime soon.

"We want [the public] to understand the Rays are a regional asset," Buckhorn said. "We want them to remain the Tampa Bay Rays. We're not gonna let that team go to Charlotte, Las Vegas or anywhere else. That is our team, and we intend to keep it our team. However it works out and wherever it works out is yet to be determined, but as far as I'm concerned, we're going to do everything we have to do to protect the viability of this franchise, whether it's in St. Petersburg or whether it's in Tampa."