PORT CHARLOTTE – Among the reasons 1B James Loney decided to re-sign with the Rays was he felt there is some unfinished business in Tampa Bay.
“I want to win with these guys. It will be fun winning with these guys,” Loney said. “It’s that feeling you want to experience like everybody else, especially since I knew this place, I knew the people here, I knew they were committed to winning.”
Loney signed a three-year, $21 million contract Jan. 3 after a breakout season in 2013, his first with the team. Loney hit .299, including a club record .351 on the road, and was one of three finalists for the Gold Glove at first base.
The three-year contract adds stability to Loney’s career. He was with the Los Angeles Dodgers for parts of seven seasons before being traded to Boston in August 2012. From there, he signed with the Rays for a one-year, $2 million contract in December 2012.
“In today’s game, you never know what can happen,” he said. “As you get older, you start thinking about those kinds of things. With a family now, and all that kind of stuff, I was excited. We were happy, and we were glad to be back in St. Pete.”
Now he’s one of the key pieces of a team that won the AL Wild Card last season and has designs on winning much more this year.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was glad to hear Loney talk about “unfinished business.”
“You have to really believe it, not just say it,” Maddon said. “Some groups say it because they’re supposed to say it. Some groups say it because they believe it. I think our group believes it.”
Jennings keeps ‘em guessing
CF Desmond Jennings reported to camp Monday noticeably bigger than he was last season. He said he had some weight but wouldn’t say how much, offering different amounts each time he was asked.
“Every spring I probably lose about 10 pounds, so I feel like I’ll be around what I want to play at about the time the season starts,” Jennings said.
Maddon said he would like to move Jennings back to the top of the order, but said the final decision will come later in the spring.
“We’ll see, because he was very comfortable hitting in that middle kind of a slot, did a really nice job with that,” Maddon said. “I don’t want to commit to anything right now. Of course he might be the leadoff hitter, but I don’t want to say that he is.”
McGee’s new old pitch
LHP Jake McGee said he wants to incorporate his old curve ball into his selection of pitches.
The pitch is a 12-6 curve that travels in the low 80s and will keep hitters off his high 90s fastball and low 90s cutter.
Fan Fest details
Rays Fan Fest is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Tropicana Field. Parking and admission is free.
The Rays are charging $125 for autographs for LHP David Price and RF Wil Myers with the proceeds going to the ALS Association Florida Chapter and the Rays Baseball Foundation. Passes for 3B Evan Longoria are sold out. The Rays are also charging $50 for autographs from most of the players on the 25-man roster with the proceeds going to the two charities.
There will also be “Reading with the Rays,” the Coaches Clinic with Rays coaches, the Kids Interactive Zone, Kids Run the Bases, photos with Rays mascot Raymond and DJ Kitty. RHP Chris Archer, RHP Grant Balfour, RHP Alex Cobb and 2B Ben Zobrist are scheduled to participate in the Phone-A-Friend. The Rays Charity Yard Sale also returns as does Maddon’s Thanksmas Dinner.
For more information, click here or call 888-FAN-RAYS.