There wasn't a lot of room to work out inside Tropicana Field, but for 13 Rays, the purpose of voluntary practices is more about the process.
"This is just kind of us hanging out together a little bit," said David Price. "Getting acclimated to what we are going to be doing throughout the year. It gives a lot of the younger guys and the new guys from the trades time to get accustomed to our system."
The Tampa Bay Home Show hadn't completely cleaned up before the players hit the field. There were some obstacles in the outfield -- some tempting, especially the ones that float.
"Actually you get negative points for hitting the boat," said Elliott Johnson with a smile. "It's not a good thing to be hitting the boat. You might get a call from an insurance agent."
The Rays' workouts this week are just an extension of Matt Joyce's winter program. He's been working on his game around Tampa Bay in the gym, in parking lots pushing cars, and studying tape of some of baseball power hitters like Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano and Barry Bonds.
"I just spent a lot of time studying these guys' swings," said Joyce. "What makes them so successful. Right now I'm still in the process of trying to perfect it and get all the kinks worked out."
The Rays have had a couple of months to reflect on why they came up short of making the playoffs. One thing stood out them, one-run games. Baltimore set a record going 29-9, while the Rays finished with a losing record 21-27. The O's finished three games ahead in the wildcard race.
"You know, if we could just put one more run across or two across, we would have won 15 or 20 more games," said Johnson. "Offensively we need to get a little bit better. Obviously we can get better defensively, but to me offensively we need to be better and I think we will be this year."
"Win a couple more one-run ballgames and a couple more games that we are supposed to win, we'll be OK," said Price.
With a new group of players to bond with, these Rays are ready for spring training to start.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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