Next stop Charlotte Sports Park, where the Rays will open the Grapefruit League season against Atlanta on Sunday.

Now that camp is a wrap, the Tampa Bay Rays will turn their attention to the Grapefruit League season opener on Sunday, against Atlanta.

A quick promotional note, you can read about what to expect out of Spring Training in our primer.

Self-promotion aside, Rays skipper Kevin Cash said a fair number of players from last season’s team will take the field against Atlanta, including Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, Willy Adames, Mike Brosseau, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and Kevan Smith.

28-year-old right-hander Chris Ellis will get the start for Tampa Bay, while Hunter Strickland, Andrew Kittredge, Stetson Allie, Tyler Zombro, Joey Krehbiel, and Yacksel Ríos are all expected to take the mound at some point in the seven-inning contest.

Speaking of shortened ball-games, the plan is to play at least seven full innings in each game for the first week regardless of the score, although Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox will be nine innings and televised on ESPN.

At any rate, the regulars may just get one at-bat early on in the shorter games. For example, Wander Franco will back up Adames this afternoon then DH on Tuesday.

The goal is not to carry an overwhelming number of players for road contests due to COVID protocols.

Don’t expect to see Ji-Man Choi or Kevin Kiermaier in the first few games of the Grapefruit League season. Choi is dealing with right knee soreness which isn’t anything serious; he wasn’t expected to play in the Grapefruit League opener regardless.

Meanwhile, Kiermaier — who has hip tightness — worked out and ran on the field on Saturday, although the Rays are expected to take it slowly with Kiermaier.

Rays 2/28/21 Starting Lineup

  1. Meadows DH
  2. Arozarena RF
  3. B. Lowe 2B
  4. Brosseau 1B
  5. Díaz 3B
  6. Tsutsugo LF
  7. Adames SS
  8. Margot CF
  9. Smith C
  10. Ellis RHP


— Tristan Gray, Kevin Padlo, Rene Pinto, Ryan Boldt, Garrett Whitley, Moises Gomez, and Blake Hunt are the available position players for Sunday’s contest.

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