2/27/2014 2:30 P.M. ET
'Ace' Casali not among golfers at charity tournament
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays started Thursday's workout early, and the workout ended early as well due to the team's participation in the annual Rays Charity Golf Tournament at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
Unfortunately, Curt Casali was not among the players invited to play. The 25-year-old catcher has been the most talked about golfer in the clubhouse in recent days due to his hole in one Monday on No. 11 at Bobcat Trail Golf Club in nearby North Port, Fla.
"They're holding me down," joked Casali, who attended Vanderbilt University, as did Rays ace David Price. "I think David had a special request for me not to go."
Casali smiled when talking about the ultra-competitive Price, who is an avid golfer but does not have a hole in one.
"Does he not have one?" Casali said. "In that case, I guess I am one up on him. It's probably the only thing I got on him at this point of my life. If that's it, I'll take it for now."
Witnessing Casali's ace were teammates Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery and Luke Maile. Casali described what happened.
"Pin was tucked back left on an elevated green that slopes down," Casali said. "I shot it at 152 [yards], a little bit of wind into me, and I hit an 8-iron pretty well. From the air I knew it was a pretty good shot. Knew it was right on line. But I didn't think anything of it. I've never hit a hole in one. I've never really hit the ball that close to the pin in general. It landed a foot past the pin and it rolled in. It stuck then just started gently rolling down. We were like, 'No, no!'"
Myers spoke first of his own 400-yard drives hit that day before addressing Casali's masterpiece.
"The funny part about that shot is I was on my phone when he hit it, and I was talking in his backswing," Myers said. "I was like, 'Oh, I didn't mean to mess you up' before the ball landed and sure enough, it was a hole in one."
Archer tosses live BP, practices out of stretch
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer got in his work on Thursday -- throwing live batting practice -- which means he is now on schedule to follow his normal routine.
On Tuesday, the Rays right-hander opted to push back his live BP until Thursday to put him on an every-five-days schedule, which he will be on during the regular season. He will pitch in his first game March 4 in Fort Myers, Fla. against the Red Sox.
Everything went well on Thursday, as Archer seemed pleased with his work.
"I wanted to throw 30 pitches," Archer said. "Simulate some counts and some different situations. I got everything accomplished."
Archer feels as though he is moving toward reaching the goals he discussed at the beginning of camp.
"Solidifying my fastball command and just getting more comfortable using my changeup in any situation," Archer said. "[The changeup] should allow me to have another weapon to throw to lefties or righties."
Archer worked out of the stretch a lot on Thursday.
"I tried to do 50-50, because most of the time you're going to be pitching out of the stretch," Archer said. "I mean, early on, the first batter is the only time you're guaranteed to pitch out of a windup. And plus, I'm trying to be a little quicker [to the plate] to slow the running game. So it was something I was trying to be conscious of as well."
Archer seemed to be on an island while getting in his work on Thursday given the lack of numbers working out with him, though he did have an audience.
"It wasn't weird," Archer said. "It was definitely nice to have the other four starters standing behind the cage. ... I got a lot of positive feedback from them. [Ben] Zobrist gave me a lot of positive feedback. So it was all in all a good day."
With visa issues resolved, Sandoval arrives at camp
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Juan Sandoval finally arrived to camp Thursday after struggling to get his visa.
"The process was just a little slow," Sandoval said.
Sandoval attributed the delay to the fact he did not sign with the Rays until late, which prevented the process from getting started.
"I'm here now and I'm ready to go," Sandoval said.
Sandoval said that the waiting has been frustrating.
"I want to be here as soon as possible, and it's almost been two weeks ago," said Sandoval, who noted that he actually arrived sooner than he thought he would. "Thank God that [visa] came through."
Though he hasn't been in camp, Sandoval has not been sitting idle.
"I was working, getting ready for whenever the call came," Sandoval said. "I was waiting, but at the same time I was getting better and better, staying in shape. I've been throwing. ... It's not the same thing [as being here], but it's close."
Sandoval proved to be the story of last year's camp when he showed and detailed his journey as a pitcher playing while being blind in his right eye. He spent last season in the Rays' organization, starting at Double-A Montgomery and finishing at Triple-A Durham. He re-signed with the team as a Minor League free agent on Jan. 22.
Juan Carlos Oviedo and Wilson Betemit are now the lone players not yet in camp; both are being held up by visa issues.
Wheeler lends support to FACTR charity
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Former Rays pitcher Dan Wheeler is involved with Finding A Cure Through Recruiting Baseball (FACTR), whose mission is to create balance in baseball between taking and giving while teaching valuable life lessons and instilling noble core values within our young adults and leaders of tomorrow. FACTR Baseball supports various cancer causes with a focus on childhood cancer.
The players that can play on FACTR teams are fortunate to be healthy enough and athletic enough to play baseball. FACTR teams are responsible for raising funds to provide financial relief for families with a child suffering from cancer and raising awareness of childhood cancer, while building character and putting life "in perspective" for players on FACTR teams.
Wheeler is hoping the local FACTR Baseball BINGO night can raise money for the cause. The event will take place on March 19 in Clearwater, Fla. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.