Notes: Crawford to honor Robinson
Rays outfielder will wear jersey No. 42 on April 15
ST. PETERSBURG -- On April 15, Carl Crawford will don jersey No. 42 instead of his usual No. 13 in remembrance of Jackie Robinson.
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of Robinson's Major League debut, at least one person from each team will wear Robinson's jersey number.
"I think it's a good tribute," Crawford said. "I'll wear it for a game."
Crawford said he doesn't know that much about Robinson, but he tries to learn more about the history of the game every year.
"I try to do my research on certain players ... embrace the history of the sport," Crawford said. "But I don't really know too much about him."
Crawford said he appreciates what Robinson went through to become the first black player in the Major Leagues.
"I understand what he went through as far as trying to break those walls down," Crawford said. "Because it's pretty much the same story of any other black person who was trying to overcome the obstacles back in those days. So I understand the basics of it. But as far as every little detail, I don't really know every detail. I want to know more, though."
Back to the Trop: Leaving New York was one thing, leaving Progress Energy Park was another for Rays players.
Throughout Spring Training, Rays hitters grew accustomed to watching would-be extra-base hits turn into wind-stalled fly balls. So Tropicana Field felt like heaven Friday night.
"Tropicana definitely feels better than Progress Energy," Crawford said. "That place just makes you feel like you're never going to hit a home run again. You feel a difference in here. If you hit it good, it just keeps carrying. There, everything was staying in. That wind there blows straight in every day."
But conducting Spring Training at Progress Energy Park is not necessarily a bad thing, according to Ty Wigginton.
"I think [hitting at Prorgress Energy Park] actually helps, because it is such a big ballpark," Wigginton said. "So you're not going to hit home runs, you're going to focus on hitting your line drives. And hopefully it carries over into the season and your swing is better."
New at the Trop: The Rays spent approximately $10 million on Tropicana Field upgrades prior to the 2006 season and continued to make improvements this past offseason at a cost of approximately $8 million. Most of the changes will have dramatic visual effects in the ballpark.
Highlighting the improvements were the following: The installation of the latest variety of FieldTurf, a state-of-the-art surface said to be safer for the players; Tropicana Field and Giants Stadium in New York are the only two major sports facilities in the United States to feature FieldTurf's latest product.
Four new video boards of which the main video board is nearly three times larger than the previous board, with greater resolution and located where more fans can see it. New elements to Rightfield Street that are kid-focused; these were partially complete for the opener.
Finally, the Rays and Raytheon introduced a new section of seats to benefit the men, women and families working and living at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. For each Rays home game, a section of 24 tickets, known as MacDill-ville, will be donated to the base. The section of seats will be the front row of Section 128, which is directly behind the Rays bullpen.
This and that: "Inside the Devil Rays," FSN's behind-the-scenes show, returns for a second season with a new slate of shows. Newly acquired Japanese star infielder Akinori Iwarnura is featured in the season premiere. The show's season debut is at 1 p.m. ET Sunday prior to the Rays-Blue Jays telecast at 1:30 p.m. There will be replays multiple times throughout the MLB season. ... The Rays have launched a full-service, Spanish-language Web site in conjunction with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). Raysbeisbol.com will provide fans with up-to-date news and team information. Raysbeisbol.com also will include the Rays promotional calendar, game schedule, team standings and game stories in Spanish. In addition, fans will be able to purchase single-game tickets and sign up to receive the Rays official Spanish-language newsletter.
Up next: The Rays will play the second game of three-game series against the Blue Jays at 7:10 p.m. ET today. Left-hander Casey Fossom (6-6, 5.33 ERA in 2006) will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Tomo Ohka (4-5, 4.82 in 2006).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.