The Rays' full squad officially reported to Port Charlotte this morning for Spring Training. Manager Joe Maddon waxed poetic about the nostalgia of spring baseball in Florida, about how much he appreciates being in this moment with this organization. Players agree and most arrived early.
David DeJesus credits the ultimate goal of this team with attracting players to camp ahead of schedule.
"I think that's on par with the type of guys we have. We have guys that want to be here, want to win, want to make it to the World Series," he said.
DeJesus also filled us in on a selfish reason for players' early arrival. "I think also the weather across the nation was pretty bad, so getting to Florida where it's 80 degrees, I think it's a little perk."
Ben Zobrist agreed. "Personally, I was up in the cold all winter, so I was glad to just to get down here... it does push you down here a little bit earlier maybe sometimes, but overall we just have a great group of guys that works hard and they prepare and they're ready to go now. I think everybody's just excited to be here."
The Rays embrace the process, which has as much to do with practice outdoors as meetings inside.
"It's about getting the message out," said Maddon. "That's what we've been doing with the pitchers for the first five days. A lot of it's been rhetorical stuff, just sitting them down, talking philosophy, making sure we're working off the same sheet of music. Meetings inside -- we've got meetings after meetings after meetings, individually a lot of good stuff going on with that. I'm not really concerned with pushing them physically right now. That's why we have six weeks of spring training. It's a slow dance and when you do it properly they get to the first part of the season in good shape not having any kind of injury problems. More than anything the first part of this would be getting the message out."
The Rays first full squad workout officially takes place Thursday morning in Port Charlotte. So far, they've come in ahead of schedule and plan to stay ahead of the curve.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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