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Spring Training is back! 4 keys to more Rays magic | News

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Spring Training is back! 4 keys to more Rays magic

Port Charlotte, Florida -- As Spring Training begins, here are four ways the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays will try to create another magical season.

Ahh... baseball is back. The Rays' first workout is Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Port Charlotte.

Photo Gallery: Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training 2012

After that heart-stopping Game 162 that ended the regular season last year, and the third trip to the playoffs in four years, there is good reason for excitement on the practice fields and all over the Bay Area.

Manager Joe Maddon says he believes these guys are "very capable" of going back to the World Series.

Here's how the 2012 Rays can succeed -- we've broken it down into what will get this team to first base, second, third, and finally home.

First Base
The foundation is the front office. Manager Joe Maddon continues to be one of the coaches players on other teams say they would most like to play for. Andrew Friedman, the team's general manager, is a great partner for Maddon. And owner Stu Sternberg stepped up and spent more on signing players this season than expected.

Second Base
That leads us to the Improved lineup. Jose Molina and Fernando Rodney join the club, along with two men known for hitting power: Luke Scott and our old pal, first baseman Carlos Pena.

Third Base
What'll take the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays to third base is top-flight defense. Last season, the Rays gave up the fewest runs in the American League and the third-fewest in all of baseball. That will hopefully stay consistent this year.

Home Plate
Finally, what will get 'em home? Pitching! The Rays have basically seven excellent starting pitchers -- and only five available slots. Spring Training should help settle out who of the seven will win those five positions.

As in the past few years, the Rays are playing spring training games at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte. That's about a 90-minute to two-hour drive from the Tampa Bay area.

Most games are at 1 in the afternoon. Tickets start at $9 during the week and $12 on weekends and when the Rays play the Red Sox or Yankees.

Find more information on the Tampa Bay Rays Spring Training website.

The Tampa Bay Rays' first home Spring Training game is March 4th against the Twins. Opening Day at Tropicana Field is April 6th, against the Yankees.


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