3/12/2014 2:09 P.M. ET
Zobrist makes road trip to get more at-bats
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Ben Zobrist did what most veterans won't on Wednesday by making the road trip when the team traveled to Dunedin to play the Blue Jays.
Zobrist isn't one to pull rank anyway, but he needed to get the at-bats. Entering Wednesday's game, he had stepped to the plate just five times this spring.
Zobrist has been held back due to a stiff lower back and later a stiff neck. Now the veteran is in a situation where he needs to get at-bats wherever he can.
"We obviously want to try and hit the ground running [at the start of the season]," Zobrist said.
As far as a desired number of at-bats, the coaching staff has an idea about how many he needs to have to be ready.
"I just know in the past it's been 50 to 60 at-bats," Zobrist said. "... So I've got to catch up a little bit."
Rays manager Joe Maddon did not sound concerned about Zobrist's at-bats.
"We were talking about back-loading [his at-bats toward the end of Spring Training] anyway," Maddon said. "There's plenty of games left to start piling them up. We could also throw him over to the Minor League side to get him at-bats, too."
Maddon likes what he sees from versatile Forsythe
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Rays manager Joe Maddon didn't know much about utility man Logan Forsythe when Tampa Bay acquired him in a Jan. 22 trade with the Padres.
"Primarily what I had heard from [executive vice president of baseball operations] Andrew [Friedman] and the scouts, the description based on scouting was very interesting, the fact that he was so versatile," Maddon said. "Beyond that, he hits the ball hard. This guy has an easy swing and the ball comes off his bat hot. And that's always interesting.
"He works good at-bats and he hits lefties. So the description was very sound, and I trust when our guys tell us something. Just based on the verbal explanation I thought he would fit in very well, and he has."
Maddon smiled before adding: "On top of that, he's a great guy and has a '68 Ford Fairlane. Which makes him even more interesting. I found that out yesterday. I look forward to seeing that."
Col. DeThomas to throw first pitch at Rays' opener
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Col. Scott V. DeThomas, commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Rays' Opening Day game against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on March 31.
DeThomas is responsible for more than $2.8 billion in base property and capital assets and controls an annual budget exceeding $249 million. MacDill represents a major economic influence within the Tampa Bay community, with a total economic impact of over $5 billion annually.
He is a native of Rhode Island and received his commission through the Air Force Academy. He has commanded at the group and squadron level and is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours in various aircrafts. Prior to his current position, he served as commander, 387th Air Expeditionary Group, Southwest Asia.
Previous first pitches at Rays home openers:
1998: Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Monte Irvin and Al Lopez
1999: Larry Doby
2000: Wade Boggs
2001: St. Petersburg Mayor David Fischer
2002: U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks
2003: Jon Gruden and Rich McKay, Tampa Bay Bucs
2004: Winky Wright, World Junior Middleweight Champion
2005: Racing legend Michael Andretti
2006: Al Lopez Jr., Al Lopez III and Al Lopez IV
2007: Governor Charlie Crist
2008: Governor Charlie Crist and Buccaneers great Mike Alstott
2009: Governor Charlie Crist
2010: Adm. Eric Thor Olson, commander, U.S. Special Ops
2011: Governor Rick Scott
2012: Jim Dundee, son of late boxing legend Angelo Dundee
2013: Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer
No chance for Seitzer to wow his dad again
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Cameron Seitzer did not make the trip with the Rays to Dunedin on Wednesday after the Minor Leaguer made a splash during his last visit to Dunedin on Friday.
Seitzer hit a two-run homer, his second in four at-bats with the Rays this spring, and what made the blast special was the fact it came in front of his father, Blue Jays hitting coach and former Major Leaguer Kevin Seitzer.
"It's at the point right now, they probably want him to get more at-bats down there [in Minor League camp]," Rays manager Joe Maddon explained. "How could he top [last week]? You don't want to go backwards in his daddy's mind. So let's let it rest right now in a positive way."
• Right-handers Alex Cobb, Grant Balfour and Joel Peralta all threw in a Minor League game at Charlotte Sports Park on Wednesday rather than travel with the team to Dunedin. In addition, Jeremy Hellickson played catch on Wednesday rather than Thursday as he told reporters he would. It was the first time Hellickson threw a ball since having January surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow.
• The Rays entered Wednesday's action leading the Major Leagues in attendance for road Spring Training games at 8,838. The D-backs, another team training in their home state, rank second at 7,912.
• On Sunday, before Tampa Bay hosts the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. ET at Charlotte Sports Park, the Rays will once again shave their heads to raise funds and awareness for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. It will be the third straight year the team has participated. For more information, visit pcfcutforacure.org. Fortune Favors the Bald T-shirts are now available for $15.99 in the Charlotte Sports Park team store as well as the Tampa Store. All proceeds benefit the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
• Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will attend the Rays-Pirates game at Charlotte Sports Park on Thursday to sign his new book, "Squeeze Play," a middle-grade novel that is the fourth installment in the "Cal Ripken Jr.'s All-Stars" series. The signing will begin shortly after gates open at 11 a.m. ET.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.