Tampa Bay Rays

Stadium: Tropicana Field | Manager: Joe Maddon
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Rays have high hopes for starting pitcher Nathan Karns
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

Rays starting pitcher Nathan Karns is in camp again this year competing for the last spot in the team's rotation. His top competition is Alex Colome, who is out of options unlike Karns. 

Even if Karns has to begin the season in the minors, the Rays still have high hopes for the 27-year-old right-hander.

"Karns has big stuff," Rays minor-league director Mitch Lukevics said, per MLB.com. "I watched him a lot last season in Durham. Big stuff, big tools. He's improving his command. And when he gets that command and learns how to pitch a little more, the sky's the limit for him."

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Rays' Archer changes offseason program, already seeing benefits
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer has spent the early days of spring training picking the brain of manager Kevin Cash about how Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber transformed into the 2014 AL Cy Young winner, according to The Tampa Tribune. Before taking the job with the Rays, Cash was the Indians bullpen coach (2013-14).

“Kluber has always had stuff, he just hasn’t had the success on that level,” Archer said. “And I’m trying to apply those things, because he saw it firsthand.”

Thus far, Cash has raved about Archer's bullpen sessions and said Archer appears to be game-ready. Archer believes the change in his offseason program is contributing to his promising start to spring training.

“In September, I had success but the body was tired, so I paced myself better in the offseason and I feel really good now,” Archer said. “I would just cycle it a little better to pace myself, because I’m thinking those (less intense) weeks in the offseason are going to help me feel better on the back end (of this season).

“I got to pump the brakes a little bit, because I don’t want to overdo it right now. Because what good is February and March? I’m trying to be good April through October.”

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Ernesto Frieri hoping Rays pitching coach can revive career
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

Rays reliever Ernesto Frieri said one of the reasons he signed with Tampa Bay was for the opportunity to work with pitching coach Jim Hickey, per The Tampa Tribune.

“That’s why I’m here,” Frieri said. “I’ve seen Hickey, he’s the man. He knows what he’s doing. He fixed a couple of guys before, and I hope I’m not the exception. I’m pretty sure he’s going to give me the right information and I’m going to take advantage.”

The 29-year-old Frieri had a good run as the Angels closer in 2012 and 2013 before the wheels came off in 2014. He lost the closer's job with Los Angeles and was eventually traded to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, he was only there a few months before more struggles led to his release.

Frieri said his 2014 struggles were because he developed bad habits. Instead of getting quicker to the plate, he was taller in his delivery, which robbed him of the deception, and caused his fastball to flatten out. The results were a 6.39 ERA with the Angels and a 10.13 ERA with the Pirates.

"(Fernando Rodney was) decent before he got here, but when he got here, wow, he got amazing,” Frieri said. “Hickey said something to him that really worked for him. Hopefully he says something to me that really works for me.”

Thus far, Frieri appears to be the ideal student.

“He seems to be extremely eager to hear what we have to say,” Hickey said. “You never know (how it will turn out), but at least it demonstrated his willingness to be open and try things.”

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Healthy Tim Beckham to compete for middle-infield spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com

Rays infielder Tim Beckham is in the mix to claim a middle-infield spot this spring after missing most of the 2014 season while rehabbing from knee surgery, MLB.com reports.

Beckham, selected first overall in the 2008 draft, tore his right ACL and underwent sugery on Dec. 17, 2013. He was able to make it back late last season and contribute to a playoff push by Triple-A Durham, hitting .258/.281/.290 in 62 at-bats.

"Coming back and playing last year, playing that month and a half, producing and helping the team out a lot," Beckham said. "And we went pretty far in the playoffs. So that brought a lot of confidence back my way. Just sliding, jumping, those are big hurdles. Just doing stuff you don't do every day off the baseball field. I wouldn't be sliding if I wasn't in a game. So that month and a half was big for me."

Beckham also said the past "not anything I think about," adding, "That's not anything I want to think about right now. I'm here, I'm healthy, and I'll take it one day at a time. Just to be able to be out there with the guys, laughing and taking ground balls, swinging, that's what the game's about, having fun. That's what we started out doing as kids. This is the game we love."

Prior to his ACL injury, Beckham hit .276/.342/.387 with four home runs, 51 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 460 at-bats with Durham in 2013. If he makes the team this spring, the infielder could see time at second base and shortstop.

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Rays' Ronald Belisario able to report to camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

Rays pitcher Ronald Belisario reported to camp on Wednesday, according to MLB.com.

Belisario was delayed by visa issues, and wound up missing five days of camp. He's expected to participate in workouts on Thursday. The 32-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the club in February. 

Belisario is expected to compete for a spot in the team's bullpen this spring. He posted a 5.56 ERA over 66 1/3 innings last year. 

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2014 Team Leaders
AVGJames Loney , 1B.290
HREvan Longoria , 3B22
RBIEvan Longoria , 3B91
OBPBen Zobrist , 2B.354
SLGEvan Longoria , 3B.404
REvan Longoria , 3B83
SBDesmond Jennings , CF15
WJake Odorizzi , SP11
ERAAlex Cobb , SP2.87
WHIPAlex Cobb , SP1.14
KJake Odorizzi , SP174
SVJake McGee , RP19
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