Welcome to springtime, and the annual pilgrimage of passionate fans to baseball’s Spring Training here on the Gulf Coast of Florida. In addition to the wealth of activities from which to choose in the St. Petersburg-Tampa area, spring is that special time when the Boys of Summer convene here under the sun to prepare for the long baseball season ahead.
Tampa Bay Rays To Field Best Team Ever
The Tampa Bay Rays play in the American League East, arguably baseball’s toughest division. Along with the big spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rays have managed an admiral record since the team began play in 1998. Despite finishing last in nine of their first ten seasons, the Rays won their division and the pennant in 2008. Since 2007, they’ve enjoyed four straight winning seasons and three playoff appearances, including two AL East championships and one trip to the 2008 World Series, where they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 2012 season could be the best ever for the Rays with their blend of youth and experience, and they should compete well with the Yankees and Red Sox. Not only have the Rays boosted their payroll from about $42 million in 2010 to about $65 million this year, they’ve bolstered their already stellar lineup with the likes of free agents Luke Scott and Carlos Pena, the team’s career home run leader, who will return to the team after a brief hiatus with the Chicago Cubs. Add to the mix star players such as Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton, Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings, and the Rays could be the team to watch this year. As they have since being led by Manager Joe Madden, the Rays will enjoy one of the deepest pitching rotations in all of baseball.
The Rays play their home Spring Training games at the Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte. For tickets, click here. The Rays will begin their regular season with games against the World Champion New York Yankees April 6, 7 and 8 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Here is a list of teams that play within easy driving distance from the St. Petersburg-Tampa area with links to their Spring Training schedules, compliments of Chris Hounchell & Associates:
Florida Gulf Coast Spring Training Schedule
Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte)
New York Yankees (Tampa)
Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater)
Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin)
Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota)
Pittsburg Pirates (Bradenton)
Detroit Tigers (Lakeland)
Houston Astros (Kissimmee)
Atlanta Braves (Disney)
Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers)
Boston Red Sox (Fort Myers)
Get out there and support our Rays!