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No Rays for Wieters, who has $21M, two-year deal with Nats

The Rays made an offer to land Wieters, pitching a one-year deal that gave him the opportunity to rebuild his value for another run at free agency in 2018.

[Getty Images]

The Rays made an offer to land Wieters, pitching a one-year deal that gave him the opportunity to rebuild his value for another run at free agency in 2018.

UPDATE, 3:59: The Rays offer was for about $6-million guaranteed, with the chance with all incentives to get past $10-million. ... They are not expected to have interest in Derek Norris, who the Nats now will look to trade.

UPDATE, 12:39: The deal, confirmed by multiple sources, is for $21-million, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, with salaries of $10M in 2017 and $11M in 2018 unless he opts out.

DEVELOPING: The Rays' hopes of landing free-agent C Matt Wieters appear to have ended Tuesday with a report by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that the former Orioles All-Star is close to a deal with the Nationals.

The deal is said to be for two years, though with an opt-out after the first.

The Rays made an offer to land Wieters, pitching a one-year deal that gave him the opportunity to rebuild his value for another run at free agency in 2018. They knew they were not in position to offer the most money, just what they positioned as the a prime opportunity - to be their everyday catcher, stay in the AL East and closer to his Atlanta home, and work with their talented pitching staff. …

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Port Charlotte report: Pruitt to start Friday opener, Longoria still ill

UPDATE, 1:35: RHP Austin Pruitt will start Friday's exhibition opener at the Twins, with RHP Jake Faria, RHP Ryan Garton, RHP Diego Moreno, RHP Ryne Stanek, RHP Hunter Wood, LHP Jose Alvarado and RHP Jeff Walters also slated. ... Cash said Longoria still had a high fever this morning which is why he was sent home. ... Archer took a break after 15 pitches of his live batting practice to simulate an inning break as part of his preparation for the WBC, and then came back to throw 15 more. ... Duffy was pleased to hit with the full team today and said his surgically repaired left heel felt good.

UPDATE, 9:07: Among pitchers scheduled to throw live BP today are Chris Archer, Alex Colome and Brad Boxberger. ... Lots of rain is forecast for Wednesday, which could curtial and limit their workout. ... Though the Rays open the exhibition season on Friday night in Fort Myers, there will be a full workout in Port Charlotte that afternoon, including live BP. .... 3B Evan Longoria was not seen in the clubhouse this morning and could be out sick for a second day. Several players have been feeling sick as a bug seems to be going around. …

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Port Charlotte report: Glove love, more live BP, no Longo for Rays

Players are always interested in checking out the new gloves,

MARC TOPKIN / TAMPA BAY TIMES

Players are always interested in checking out the new gloves,

UPDATE, 2:16: Cash said Longoria texted this morning, said he felt sick, hadn't slept, had a fever, etc. No concern if he misses Tuesday as well.

Also, Cash said they spent time today on the mental approach to baserunning, with 1B coach Rocco Baldelli talking about being more aware of situations.

Cash also praised their work on the pop-up drill, noting Tim Beckham for taking charge while playing SS.

SS Matt Duffy, on a reduced work schedule as he recovers from heel surgery, tracked some pitches during BP and may hit with his group on Tuesday.

UPDATE, 12:30: 3B Evan Longoria missed today's workout and was not at the Port Charlotte facility, team officials saying he was sick. Longoria was in Tampa Sunday night for a season-ticket holder event at the Ducky's restaurant/bar he is part owner of.

Twenty-plus minor-leaguers started voluntary workouts today in advance of their camp formally opening March 4, and it will pay off for a couple who are likely to be used this weekend when the Rays open exhibition play, especially with a night game Friday in Fort Myers and then a home day game on Saturday.
 …

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Port Charlotte report: Rays all together now

Evan Longoria got in some early work despite the fog.

WILL VRAGOVIC / TAMPA BAY TIMES

Evan Longoria got in some early work despite the fog.

After a foggy start to the morning in Port Charlotte, the Rays are set for their first full-squad workout of the spring, taking the field at around 10:30.

Before heading out, there is a meeting in the clubhouse where manager Kevin Cash and front-office officials will address the 65 players in camp.

The highlight - or, if you are a hitter, lowlight - of the day will live batting practice, starting around 12:10, with flamethrowing Jose Alvarado and Ryne Stanek among the pitchers scheduled for work.

Check back later for updates.

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HBO show on Joe Maddon to premiere Tuesday

Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be the featured subject with HBO's Real Sports show debuts on Tuesday night at 10.

Host Bryant Gumbel spent several days, in Tampa with Maddon, who led the Cubs to their first World Series championship since 1908.

From HBO: It’s good to be Joe Maddon. The three-time manager of the year snapped the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year World Series drought after just two seasons at the helm of a franchise long “cursed” to never win again. But the 63-year-old skipper tells REAL SPORTS host Bryant Gumbel he doesn’t believe in curses of yesteryear when they sit down prior to spring training and the pursuit of another title for the iconic franchise. Gumbel and Maddon look back to the riveting 2016 fall classic and discuss the widespread criticism of his use of closer Aroldis Chapman during the series. Gumbel also speaks with Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, who reveals how he lured Maddon to the National League.

Here is a clip:

 

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Longoria still missing Forsythe but likes totality of moves

The new-look Longoria.

MARC TOPKIN / TAMPA BAY TIMES

The new-look Longoria.

Veteran Rays leader 3B Evan Longoria did a spring opening address this morning, showing off his new bearded look. Among the highlights:

* While still not over the trade of 2B Logan Forsythe - saying at the time he was "surprised and upset" - Longoria said he likes the overall winter moves. "I think we were all a little bit upset by the loss of Logan, I was about as vocal as I've ever been on any given topic or move that we've made, but that being said some of the additions we did make are really good.''

* Coming off a 36-homer season that was one of his best, Longoria changed his off-season routine, cutting way back on his hitting, switching from yoga to pilates (with wife Jaime Edmonson) and going back to the Exos workout facility in Arizona. "I took the Jake Arrieta advice and did a bunch of pilates with my wife and did less hitting, a lot less hitting.''

* The reduced workload was the product of changes he made in his swing last season that obviously stuck with him. "My swing has probably felt as good as It's ever felt coming into spring.'' …

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Port Charlotte report: Rays smile for the camera

Will Vragovic and the Times photo crew are hard at work on photo day, with LHP Dana Eveland a willing subject.

MARC TOPKIN / TAMPA BAY TIMES

Will Vragovic and the Times photo crew are hard at work on photo day, with LHP Dana Eveland a willing subject.

It's photo day in Rays camp, which means the players are parading through about a dozen stations for photo and video shoots, and some 620-AM sound bites.

Once they get that done, the pitchers and catchers will have somewhat of an abbreviated workout starting around 10:30, while the position players are going through physicals and other administrative duties, such as signing items for team charities, etc.

On Sunday, the whole group will workout together for the first time, and will have five days of doing so before beginning exhibition game play on Friday, Feb. 24.

As for today's workout, RHP Erasmo Ramirez is slated to through his first bullpen session after being set back a couple days when he tweaked his left hamstring on Tuesday.

 

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Checking in with new Rays TV reporter Alex Corddry

New Fox Sports Rays TV reporter Alex Corddry

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

New Fox Sports Rays TV reporter Alex Corddry

Alex Corddry has been hired by Fox Sports Sun to be the new in-game reporter for Rays TV broadcast. A native of Maryland and graduate of the University of Alabama, Corddry, 28, has worked in Birmingham (for the CBS affiliate), Washington, D.C. (on the Redskins website), in Boston (for the NBC affiliate) and most recently doing college football for ESPN.

The Times asked, and she answered three questions about her new assignment, for which she will make her debut March 12:

1. What are your thoughts on getting the job?

I'm extremely excited to join the Fox Sports Sun team and can't wait to work with Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson this season. I look forward to bringing my passion and enthusiasm to the game of baseball each and every broadcast. I'm very grateful to Mr. Sternberg and to the Tampa Bay Rays for this amazing opportunity!

2. How eager are you for a fulltime baseball gig?  …

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Cash makes clear Rays first option at second is Miller

Brad Miller played 37 games at second with the Mariners from 2013-15.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Brad Miller played 37 games at second with the Mariners from 2013-15.

It was no surprise, but Rays manager Kevin Cash made clear today that their primary plan is have Brad Miller make the move to second base as the replacement for Logan Forsythe.

"We're going to get him as many reps as we can at second base, as simple as that,'' Cash said Friday. "He is up for the challenge. ... Brad Miller is bought in and is all about the team. He'll do whatever. But we think for our team this spring we need to get him as acclimated as possible at second base. He is still going to play short because we know that versatility will help us. But he is all about playing second base and being a really good one.''

Cash talked with Miller after he reported to camp on Thursday.

Miller played 37 games at second with the Mariners from 2013-15, so Cash said it may be more a matter of getting him "re-acclimated.''

Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin and prospect Daniel Robertson are other internal options at second.

Because the Rays signed back lefty swinger Logan Morrison to play first, Cash said Miller is not likely to get much time there.

 

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Port Charlotte report: Hunter, rest of Rays are here

Rays shortstop Willy Adames signs an autograph for Brody Rossetti, 7, after a workout Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Rays shortstop Willy Adames signs an autograph for Brody Rossetti, 7, after a workout Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park.

UPDATE, 10:19: Hunter is here in the clubhouse, with just some details to be finalized for his minor-league deal to be complete.

Also, Longoria (in a full beard) and Weeks reported, so the Rays now have all 65 players in camp.

DEVELOPING: Rays pitchers and catchers take the field today for their fourth day of workouts in Port Charlotte, and are joined by just about all the position players, with 3B Evan Longoria and OF/1B/DH Rickie Weeks the last of the 64 yet to report.

Also:

* A minor-league deal with RHP Tommy Hunter is expected to be finalized today. The veteran reliever would join the competition for an open bullpen spot.

* Position players report today, then have an admin day on Saturday for physicals and photos, in advance of Sunday's first full-squad workout.

 

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Commissioner still "optimistic" on Rays stadium search

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday that he remains "optimistic" that the Rays will find a new stadium in the Tampa Bay market.

Manfred, speaking in Lakeland before the Governor's Baseball Dinner, said he shared Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg's feeling based on progress on the site search in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, with a resolution expected by August.

"I'd like to encourage the process to move as quickly as possible," Manfred said.

 

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Rich Hollenberg won't be back on Rays TV broadcasts

RIch Hollenberg has worked on Rays broadcasts for 3 seasons.

TIMES FILES

RIch Hollenberg has worked on Rays broadcasts for 3 seasons.

Todd Kalas won't be the only face missing from the Fox Sports Rays TV broadcasts this season, as Rich Hollenberg — surprisingly — was not retained, the Times has learned.

Hollenberg has handled pre- and post-game host, and occasional in-game reporting, duties for the last three seasons.

A replacement is expected to be named soon.

"While this move was not my decision, I understand it's a business,'' Hollenberg said. "I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the Rays, and will especially miss interacting with the fans. It never felt like work to me, especially because I had such a blast with (co-host) Orestes (Destrade), who I consider like a brother.''

Hollenberg plans to expand his college basketball duties with ESPN.

With Kalas leaving for the Astros play-by-play job, Fox is set to hire Alex Corddry as the new in-game reporter.

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Rays close to signing Tommy Hunter, have interest in Brian Wilson

As a reliever, Tommy Hunter is 19-12, 3.27 with 16 saves.

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As a reliever, Tommy Hunter is 19-12, 3.27 with 16 saves.

The Rays are set to add another experienced reliever to their spring roster as they are close to signing RHP Tommy Hunter to a minor-league deal, the Times has learned.

Hunter, 30, split last season between the Indians and Orioles, going 2-2, 3.18 in 33 games. He has spent parts of nine seasons in the majors, coming up with Texas and then moving to Baltimore, and switched from starting to relieving in 2013.

As a reliever, Hunter is 19-12, 3.27 with 16 saves.

Wilson, 34, is trying to make a comeback as a knuckleballer, having last pitched in the majors in 2014. The Rays have developed a program to work with and refine knuckleball pitchers, so their interest in Wilson - which would be on a minor-league deal and not a camp invite - would make sense.

Wilson was known as much for his solid relief work as his eccentric personality during his time with the Giants and Dodgers.

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Port Charlotte report: Pitchers will take it slow to start

Alex Cobb, pictured, and Jake Odorizzi threw on Tuesday and would typically be in line to do so again today, but will not.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb, pictured, and Jake Odorizzi threw on Tuesday and would typically be in line to do so again today, but will not.

The Rays have their third workout of the spring this morning in Port Charlotte, and a chance in the schedule will be noticeable.

Given that camps opened earlier (due to the World Baseball Classic) and last a bit longer this year, the Rays will have some of their pitchers - starters and veteran relievers - on a less intense throwing schedule, where they take an extra day or two between bullpen sessions rather than stick to an every-other-day schedule.

For example, RHPs Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi threw on Tuesday and would typically be in line to do so again today, but will not. Younger pitchers such as RHP Ryan Garton and minor-leaguers such as Jake Faria will be on the standard schedule.

Even though today's 10:30 a.m. workout is for pitchers and catchers, 20 of the 23 position players have already reported and most will be around as well. 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Logan Morrison and DH/1B/OF Rickie Weeks are all expected by Saturday's reporting date.

 

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Rays' Kiermaier went old-school in wedding proposal

Kevin Kiermaier announced via Twitter that he is now engaged to his, girlfriend Marisa.

Twitter

Kevin Kiermaier announced via Twitter that he is now engaged to his, girlfriend Marisa.

For the biggest catch of his life, Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier went old-school.

Wanting to propose before spring training, Kiermaier arranged for a family gathering last weekend at girlfriend Marisa's mother's house then - after stalling for a few minutes watching the Oklahoma City-Golden State NBA game - snuck outside to wait for her and got down to business.

"Her mom made their backyard look beautiful, with all these lights and made all these signs,'' Kiermaier said Wednesday after reporting to camp. "I just dropped down on a knee ... and asked her. Her whole family was inside watching. She absolutely loved it. Very fun, eventful weekend and that just capped off my offseason as a whole. ... It was perfect.''

As a keepsake, Kiermaier arranged for Marisa's younger sister to video the event. "(Marisa) was so surprised,'' he said. "And there's a three-minute video that Marisa will never forget now.''

Kiermaier said there is no wedding date yet; his brother Dan, a groundskeeper at Wrigley Field, also got engaged recently.

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