Rays heading south for weekend exhibitions in Dominican Republic

PORT CHARLOTTE — Normally, just driving a couple of hours for a spring training game is considered enough of a hassle.

Friday, the Rays are getting on buses and heading to the airport, then flying to the Dominican Republic for exhibition games Saturday and Sunday against the Red Sox.

Manager Kevin Cash said the break in routine could be a good thing.

“I wouldn’t even call it a disruption. Spring training can get a little long, as we all know, and it’s coming at the right time,” he said. “This is exciting for a lot of our players, certainly the guys that were born and raised in the Dominican, and it’s exciting for the country.

“It’s very easy to overlook the amount of talent and quality of baseball players that come from that country. Our game would not be what it is today if we did not have Dominican baseball players. So to go and show them, with both the Red Sox and us, is going to be pretty special.”

The Rays are taking 30 players — including all of their Dominican natives — plus most of the coaching staff, a large group of front-office executives, and radio and social media crews for the games at Santo Domingo’s Estadio Quisqueya.

“A change of scenery will be nice,” Cash said.

The 41 players not going will remain on a somewhat regular workout routine in Port Charlotte, with Zack Littell and Tyler Alexander throwing 3-4 innings in a simulated game on Friday and a bunch of relievers doing so on Saturday, with pitching coach Kyle Snyder staying behind to supervise. Sunday will be a light day, and the team resumes exhibition play Monday at home against Toronto.

First cut not too deep

Six players were reassigned to minor-league camp Thursday as the Rays made their first cuts of the spring.

That group included catching prospects Dom Keegan and Kenny Piper, who Cash said the team was “very impressed with.”

And pitcher Logan Workman, who Cash said is working his way into being considered a candidate to help the big-league team after a solid 2023 showing at Double A. “We’re excited about where he’s going,” Cash said.

Infielder Evan Edwards, and pitchers Mason Montgomery and Nathan Wiles also were reassigned, reducing the camp roster to 71.

Game details: Rays 3, Phillies 2

The Rays (4-7-2) rapped four hits, including RBI singles by Harold Ramirez and Jose Siri and a double by Isaac Paredes, in a three-run first against Phillies ace Aaron Nola. … Lefty Brendan McKay had a solid second outing in his bid to return to the majors for the first time since 2019, allowing two hits but no runs, striking out Johan Rojas to end the fourth. “It’s got to feel good for him to make a big pitch and walk off the mound,” Cash said. … Amed Rosario played second base and continues to impress, smacking a leadoff single and stealing second. … Cash was pleased with the Rays’ play overall in winning two straight after going seven games without shaking hands. “Rosario continues to swing the bat well, Paredes kind of that patented double we see a lot,” Cash said. “Encouraging. It seems like we’re starting to trend in a better direction maybe than we were four or five days ago, just playing cleaner games and having some better swings.”


Pitcher Shane Baz said an MRI on his mild left oblique was encouraging. He expects to resume throwing soon and get to the first live batting practice session he has been targeting after recovering from September 2022 Tommy John surgery. … Bally Sports Sun will televise, and stream, the March 16 prospects game (4:05 p.m.) vs. Minnesota that is part of MLB’s Spring Breakout Series.

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