2/5/2014 4:14 P.M. ET
Upbeat Rays hold informal workouts in St. Pete
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Members of the Tampa Bay media were invited to Tropicana Field on Wednesday morning to watch a group of players go through informal offseason workouts.
Included in Wednesday's workout group were: Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Kevin Kiermaier, Grant Balfour, Cole Figueroa, Matt Joyce, Jake Odorizzi, Brandon Gomes, Jake McGee and Josh Lueke.
The mood of the group could be described as upbeat, particularly about the prospect of David Price returning to the team this season.
"He's kind of been the man at the helm for us," Moore said. "And he's definitely the leader in the clubhouse. So we're looking forward to getting behind him again."
Derek Shelton also was present Wednesday, and the Rays' hitting coach was asked about American League Rookie of the Year Award winner Wil Myers avoiding the dreaded "sophomore jinx."
"I think the biggest thing we have to make sure of is that he doesn't try to do too much and go outside what he does well," Shelton said. "I think a lot of people who get into situations do so when they try to do things other than what they have done that has made them successful. But I'm not concerned about it with Wil. He's a confident kid and extremely talented. So I think he's going to build on what he did last year."
The trucks have already been packed for Port Charlotte, Fla., where the team will soon begin Spring Training. Tropicana Field will be shut down for workouts after Monday. Most players will take Tuesday off before heading south toward the Charlotte Sports Complex, where the Rays will begin their sixth Spring Training in Port Charlotte. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14; they will hold their first workout on Feb. 15.
Odorizzi presented with golden opportunity
ST. PETERSBURG -- With Jeremy Hellickson out until May following right elbow surgery, right-hander Jake Odorizzi is considered the favorite to move into the Rays' No. 5 slot in the rotation.
"Everything changes," Odorizzi said. "I didn't know anything about Helly's surgery until everything happened. I think everybody here was caught a little bit off guard by it. ... It's really an unfortunate situation. Just getting started up throwing and you do a bullpen and have arm problems -- I feel bad about that."
Odorizzi, who came to the Rays from the Royals prior to the 2013 season in the Wil Myers trade, has endured a mixed bag of offseason reports speculating on his fate for the 2014 season. First, there were the rumors of staff ace David Price being traded. If that happened, most penciled Odorizzi into the rotation.
Once the offseason reached a point where the prospect of trading Price began to lose steam, Odorizzi faced the possibility of pitching another season at Triple-A Durham or finding a spot in the bullpen. And, of course, after the news about Hellickson broke, Odorizzi now appears earmarked for the starting rotation once again.
Odorizzi managed a smile about his ever-changing fortunes.
"You never pay attention to anything because you never know what's going to happen," Odorizzi said. "... It's all unpredictable. So all I can do is what I have to do to get ready."
Odorizzi, 23, is Tampa Bay's highest-ranked prospect at No. 56 in MLB.com's annual rankings. His first year in the organization saw him split time between Triple-A Durham and the Major Leagues. Odorizzi served five stints with the Rays, finishing at 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in seven appearances, four of which were starts. He posted a 9-6 mark with a 3.33 ERA in 22 starts for the Bulls.
Joyce gives back to hospital in hometown
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Joyce presented a $5,700 check to All Children's Hospital of Brandon (Fla.) on Wednesday and then met some of the patients. The Rays outfielder's most recent philanthropic endeavor came on the heels of his "Sweet Swingin' Baseball Camp" that was held on Jan. 26 to benefit North Brandon Youth Baseball -- his former league -- and All Children's Hospital of Brandon.
"It feels awesome, just to be able to give back where I grew up," Joyce said. "One of my biggest goals is to help Tampa and the place where I grew up. Leave it a little better off."
Joyce noted he has "a lot of fun" at his camp and added that the camp is trending in the right direction.
"The kids come out and have a great time," Joyce said. "We've started getting more sponsors involved. So that's taking off, and giving money back to the league and All Children's Hospital -- definitely great causes."
On National Wear Red Day, Rays left-hander Jake McGee will participate in the "Picture and a Promise" event at Bayfront Health, a sponsor of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign. During "Picture and a Promise," participants can write their promises on a board (e.g., exercise, lower cholesterol, get more sleep) and then get a photo snapped with McGee and have that photo printed on site.
The event will take place Friday afternoon from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. ET in the East Lobby of Bayfront Health at 701 6th St. South in St. Petersburg.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.