PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays opened their first full day of spring training Tuesday without two of their most successful pitchers last season. Manager Kevin Cash knows there are not two players in camp that can fill the void left by Blake Snell and Charlie Morton.
“They’re a lot of unknowns,” Cash said. “(General manager) Erik (Neander) and the front office, we’ve all put our heads together, we understand we are not going to be able to replace Blake and Charlie with two other guys but we might be able to find some ways in replacing all the production and value they brought to our club with a handful of them.”
Off-season trade rumors also swirled around outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, but he’s back for his ninth season in a Rays uniform.
“Seeing my name in trade speculation felt more real the first time this offseason,” Kiermaier said. “But, I got this (Tampa Bay logo) on my chest right now, so I am a happy man.”
He's also extremely motivated after the team fell just short in last year's World Series.
“Now it's figuring out what can we do to get better as a team, as a whole, try to get back to that situation and try to come out on top,” Kiermaier said. “We have a team that is very capable of doing that.”
“I know everybody is hungry,” shortstop Willy Adames said. “They want to win it all this year. Me, personally, I am really excited about the team. Everyone came in healthy. We got to get ready for the season and go play our game."
The Rays first spring training game is Sunday in Port Charlotte against the Atlanta Braves.