by Steve Carney
The Tampa Bay Rays held their first scheduled workout of pitchers and catchers at their Spring Training complex in Port Charlotte Wednesday.
All pitchers participated in fielding comebackers and bunts as well as covering first base. Half the staff also threw their first bullpen session, including starters David Price and Jeff Niemann and relievers Fernando Rodney and Kyle Farnsworth.
For the first time in a few years, the team has the same catching staff this season that was there for last season.
"It's always nice when you keep the same group together in some form, I mean especially in that regard because the pitchers did so well last year," Manager Joe Maddon said. "These catchers know these guys, and they know how we do things. So it's going to be kind of fun to not have to break anybody necessarily in new there. I think the pitchers will appreciate that too."
Pitcher Jeff Niemann agreed with Maddon's theory.
"Essentially we just pick up where we left off," Niemann said after the workout. "Instead of going through the who spiel, 'Set up here. We do this.' It's like, 'Same as last year? Yep. Here we go.' Step right back into it, and it's pretty much a smooth transition to us."
WHERE'S THE GOLD GLOVE?: The running joke in the clubhouse before Wednesday's workout was the question of where pitcher Jeremy Hellickson's Gold Glove was.
"I saw a picture of it, but I haven't seen the actual thing," lefty Matt Moore said. "I'm sure he's got it in his truck, or something like that."
"He hasn't brought it around," right-hander Alex Cobb remarked. "It's only half of one, so I think he's kind of shy about it."
But Hellickson had the answer for them.
"I haven't seen it yet. They'll be the first to see it when I do. I think I get it before the first game."
Hellickson shares the 2012 AL Gold Glove at pitcher with Chicago's Jake Peavy.
MORE POSITION PLAYERS ARRIVE: More position players arrived at camp Wednesday ahead of Sunday's scheduled first full-squad workout. Showing up today were outfielders Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings, second baseman Kelly Johnson, and super-utility man Ben Zobrist.
FOR THURSDAY: Pitchers and catchers will work out again at the training complex. The workout will start at 10:00 and run until 1:00. Among the pitchers scheduled to throw their first bullpen sessions: Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, and Chris Archer.