Today is the first day of the rest of the season…really. Grapefruit League action starts today and if we’re thinking alike — it’s a very welcomed date on the calendar.
For now, here is the Rays’ lineup. (See earlier post for the Reds)
Bartlett SS, Crawford LF, Longoria 3B, Burrell DH, Aybar 1B, Navarro C, Zobrist 2B, Gross RF, Perez CF P Hernandez.
In transactions — LHP Bill Bray, SS Paul Janish and C/IF Wilkin Castillo agreed to one-year contracts. The Reds have eight players unsigned.
In other notes from the clubhouse:
Castillo and LHP Pedro Viola were not selected by the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic but no reason was given. Manager Dusty Baker did not rule out carrying three catchers so Castillo could benefit from the D.R.’s decision.
“For Castillo, it’s a chance to show more what he can do,” Baker said. “His chances were increased by not going without being selected.
“If you’re going to have a third catcher, you’d like him to be more versatile. He could play a lot of places.”
“I’m trying to make the team and I’m working hard,” Castillo said. “I am ready to play everywhere — wherever the manager needs me.”
The Reds’ lineup appeared to be similar to what you will see on April 6 for Opening Day.
“Pretty close,” Baker said. “It depends on who we’re facing. On Opening Day, we’ll see [Mets lefty ace Johan] Santana so it might be a little different.”
The lineup will be together for the next four days since Joey Votto, Willy Taveras, Jerry Hairston and Ramon Hernandez are leaving March 1 for the WBC. Baker used a DH in Jacque Jones and doesn’t plan on having pitchers hit until at least March 10.
This is the first time big league baseball has been played in Port Charlotte since 2002 when the Rangers were in the facility. They moved to Surprise, Ariz., the following year. Since then, a $27 million renovation was done here and the ballpark looks like a very nice place for fans to watch baseball.