by Steve Carney
In addition to live batting practice in their full-squad workout Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays also spent a good portion of time working on situational hitting.
"I think it's the velvet hammer approach. You've got to talk about it. You've got to make sure you do it, but you can't get to the point where it becomes obtrusive, gets in the way, and then guys get tight or go the other way with it," manager Joe Maddon said after practice.
"When you get the whole group pursuing each other and supporting one another, I think that's when situational hitting, especially with runners on third [base] and less than two outs becomes more contagious. And I think we're seeing that right now."
NO NEW UPDATE ON LONGO AND EDMONDSON: Third baseman Evan Longoria was not at practice Wednesday after leaving camp to be with girlfriend Jaime Edmondson as her labor was being induced.
Edmondson tweeted Wednesday about her situation:
Maddon says he understands his star third baseman's decision.
"That's the way it's supposed to be," the Rays manager said. "We're eager to hear what's going on. I have not heard anything new. I'm sure everything is going to be fine, but he needs to take care of that first."
Edmondson was due April 1. The couple are having a girl.
RAMOS HEADING TO WBC: The number of Rays players participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic has again risen to four, as relief pitcher Cesar Ramos has been tapped to play for Team Mexico.
"Both of my parents are from there," Ramos explained. "My parents are just as excited as I am to represent Mexico and the pride and honor for playing for their country."
Ramos joins fellow reliever Fernando Rodney (Dominican Republic), catcher Jose Molina (Puerto Rico), and infielder Ben Zobrist (USA) in the tournament.
SCHEDULED PICTHERS ANNOUNCED FOR FIRST THREE GAMES: The Rays also announced Wednesday which pitchers will see action in the first three games of the season.
Roberto Hernandez will get the start in the Grapefruit League opener in Port Charlotte, where Joe Maddon's squad will welcome in the Pittsburgh Pirates. He'll be followed by Jeff Niemann, Marquis Fleming, Fernando Rodney, Alex Colome. J.D. Martin, and Adam Liberatore.
Enny Romero will get the nod for bench coach Dave Martinez's team, who will travel to Fort Myers to take on the Boston Red Sox. Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, Felipe Rivero, Matt Buschmann and Neil Schenk will follow him.
Chris Archer will start Sunday in Fort Myers against the Minnesota Twins. Also pitching Sunday will be Jake Odorizzi, Frank De Los Santos, Will Inman, Matt Nevarez, Jimmy patterson, Juan Sandoval, Alex Torres and Kirby Yates.
Alex Cobb will start Monday at Charlotte Sports Park against Boston, and reigning Cy Young Award winner David Price will get the ball first Tuesday at home against the Houston Astros.
FOR THURSDAY: The team will hold their final full-length practice of the spring, will a second round of live batting prcatice thrown by pitchers Alex Cobb, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Chris Archer. Practice is scheduled to start at 9:30 and run until 1:00.