It’s time for another edition of This Week in Rays Baseball — the first in some time. I digress.
First on the docket, details on the Rays previously announced renovation of Tropicana Field have surfaced. They’re planning what is being called a 360-degree “interior stadium fan access” with the creation of walkways behind the outfield seating areas, similar Rays’ Port Charlotte spring stadium which has a boardwalk and centerfield tiki bar. They’ll also open up what was the dark, glass-fronted Batter’s Eye restaurant into an open-air meeting spot with concessions. “Fans can actually walk around the stadium without having to go into the concourse area,” said Joe Zeoli, the city’s managing director of development administration, in a Tampa Bay Times article. “You will be able to watch the game as you move from left field to right field, for example.
“Most of the other items are maintenance,” noted Zeoli. “This item will kind of get everybody’s attention.” Those renovations will include restroom upgrades, pipe replacement and ceiling restoration in the home clubhouse, improved exterior lighting in employee parking areas, and refurbishment of exterior awnings. All of the work is expected to be complete before the start of the 2014 baseball season.
The Tampa Bay Times’ article goes on to note,
Though the glass walls are coming down, there still has to be a dark area in centerfield that provides the hitting background, which is known as the batter’s eye. In the new configuration, that may be a screen or a mesh banner, and it will be smaller than the fronting of the restaurant, though it will meet league requirements. The Rays likely will consult with the coaching staff — and possibly have hitters test it out — to make sure it provides the proper background.
The majority of the $1.3MM overhaul will come from a special stadium capital projects escrow account which the city controls. Since the team cannot spend money from the account without city approval, they will be asked to approve the project at a November 25th city council meeting.
The Rays have signed 30 year-old RHRP, Mark Lowe, to a minor league deal, including an invitation to Spring Training. Lowe posted a 9.26 ERA in 11 appearances with the Angels this season before he was released in June. Lowe was picked up by the Nationals from there, though he pitched exclusively with Triple-A Syracuse before opting out of his contract after being passed over for a September call-up.
In his time with the Mariners and Rangers, from 2009-2012, Lowe compiled a 3.60 ERA over 177 appearances, impressively posting a 10 K/9 over a span of 193 innings. Lowe represents another in a long line of Rays reclamation projects that have have found recent success. DJ Short of NBC Sports’ was quick to remind us, “The Rays have earned the benefit of the doubt at this point, so it would probably be more surprising if he didn’t end up being a contributor in 2014.”
Finally, Noah Pransky reported this week, “Despite his August promise to intervene in the Rays’ Stadium Saga, Commissioner Bud Selig told reporters on Thursday that he has no plans to get involved in negotiations right now. He went on to write, “A departure from his previous frustrations, Selig said he was comfortable with the direction of the conversation.”