By Steve Carney
The Tampa Bay Rays wrapped up the practice portion of the Spring Training schedule Friday with an abbreviated workout on the main field at Charlotte Sports Park.
The team practiced cut-offs and relay throws in from the outfield before hitters took batting practice from the coaching staff.
Manager Joe Maddon said he's been very impressed with how the first part of camp has gone.
“I'm here to tell you, attitudinally speaking, [this is] one of the best groups I've been around,” the Rays skipper said Friday. “I think a lot has to do with, like I said, a combination of the guys that have been here carrying the torch well, new guys coming in, being wide open and wanting to be here. It's really been outstanding to watch. I kind of enjoy it a lot.”
Be sure to check out our photo gallery for the latest pictures from the closed-to-the-public workout!
LONGORIA TO RETURN TO CAMP THIS WEEKEND: Maddon said that he expects third baseman Evan Longoria to return to Port Charlotte sometime this weekend.
“I'm not concerned, but I haven't spoken with him directly,” Maddon said after Friday's practice. “Even if he didn't make the weekend, it would not concern me, but I do anticipate he will be here.”
Even if Longoria does return to camp for the weekend, the Rays skipper says he'll need a couple of days to work out before he sees any game action.
Longoria and girlfriend Jaime Edmondson welcomed a little girl, the first child for each, Wednesday.
TICKETS AVAILABLE: The team also announced there are still tickets available for both Saturday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Monday's game against the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park. Tickets may be purchased over the phone at (888) FAN-RAYS, online at raysbaseball.com, or in person at the Charlotte Sports Park box office in Port Charlotte, the Tropicana Field box office in St. Petersburg, the Rays Tampa team store at 400 N. Tampa St. in downtown Tampa, and at all Ticketmaster outlets.
SATURDAY'S MATCHUPS: Tampa Bay has a pair of contests to start the 2013 Grapefruit League Saturday. Manager Joe Maddon will lead the group staying in Port Charlotte to welcome in the Pittsburgh Pirates, with Roberto Hernandez taking on Jeff Locke.
Bench coach Dave Martinez will be entrusted with the team heading to Fort Myers to take on the Boston Red Sox inside JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Alex Colome will now get the start against John Lackey.
The game in Port Charlotte will start at 1:05, with coverage of the game in Port Charlotte starting at 1:00 on 620 WDAE. The game in Fort Myers begins at 1:35, and will not be aired.