Rays Start 2017 Spring With Optimism

PORT CHARLOTTE (620 WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays began their 2017 spring displaying their optimism for the upcoming season.

Manager Kevin Cash, general manager Erik Neader and senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom met with the media ahead of the start of pitchers and catchers working out at the team's facility at Charlotte Sports Park.

Cash pointed out that a number of players started out slowly in 2016, namely Brad Miller and Logan Morrison, and that shortstop Matt Duffy, acquired from the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Matt Moore at the trade deadline, didn't get a fair shake due to injury.

"Matt Duffy is a guy that we didn't really get to see [in 2016]," Cash said.  "We got to know him and he was great, but we didn't get to see him healthy.  We're anticipating him to working through spring and be healthy for us and be a huge addition to both defense and offense." 

Meanwhile, Bloom said he's focused on making sure four of the five players coming off season-ending surgery in 2016 -- Duffy, outfielders Steven Souza Jr. and Colby Rasmus, and first baseman Logan Morrison -- are as close to being ready for Opening Day as possible.

"We're going to need to bring them along at the right pace, but hopeful that they can be ready on Opening Day," Bloom said.  "And in the worse case, if we do have some sort of setback, that it won't be a big one."

As for catcher Wilson Ramos, coming off major knee surgery in September, the new Rays catcher won't be ready for the start of the season, and Bloom says his rehab will be a more fluid situation.

"We're going to learn as he goes along," Bloom admitted.  "We don't know exactly when [he'll return].  We know we said it when he signed.  I know he's got very high expectations for when he'll be able to make it back, and that's great.  He has worked his tail off trying to get back on the field, and he's very motivated.  Really wants to make an impact, and we're not going to hold him back.  We just don't want to do anything that jeopardizes his health."

COMING UP TUESDAY: The team will hold its first scheduled workout of pitchers and catchers, with half of the pitchers scheduled to throw their first bullpen sessions of the spring.  The workout is scheduled to begin at Charlotte Sports Park at 10:30, and last about two hours.

Listen to the entire press conference below!

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