The Rays’ quest for a new stadium in the greater Tampa Bay area remains an important topic for the organization and the league. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, club owner Stuart Sternberg continues to assert a commitment to finding a way forward in Florida. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, said he’s putting his faith in Sternberg, saying: “as long as he’s committed, I think we — me and Major League Baseball — will remain committed to the market.” Manfred also addressed the matter of geography more generally, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. He suggested that the priority is to figure out the outstanding ballpark difficulties of organizations in their current cities, before considering any expansion possibilities. “Sequentially, I think it’s important for Tampa Bay and Oakland to get their facility situations resolved before we move into a real active consideration of expansion,” said Manfred. Of course, that’s an important factor in maintaining leverage; as Manfred perhaps implicitly acknowledged in stating, “we feel it’s our obligation to have alternatives to consider in the event that a relocation becomes necessary.”
There was also some sad news out of St. Petersburg today, as Rays’ minority owner Lance Ringhaver was reportedly killed in a car accident yesterday, as the Tampa Bay Times reports. Sternberg issued a statement mourning the loss of the 76-year-old, and MLBTR joins in offering condolences to his family and the Rays organization.
- The Mets are likely to face ongoing questions of daily lineup construction with both Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto in line for playing time, as John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Lagares appears to be back in good form while Conforto continues to show the promise he displayed in 2015, but Yoenis Cespedes is an everyday player and Curtis Granderson still seems lined up for the majority of the action in right. (Then, of course, there’s Alejandro De Aza.) For now, this seems like a good problem to have, but it certainly could lead to some tough decisions as the season goes along.
- Meanwhile, the Mets could face yet tougher issues with third baseman David Wright, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains. Wright’s movement in the infield and ability to keep pace at the plate while dealing with spinal stenosis remain in question, though of course the standout veteran will have every chance to battle through.
- Via MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (on Twitter), the Marlins say that they have placed an innings limit of about 180 on right-hander Jose Fernandez in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old ace tossed 89 1/3 innings last season after returning in early July, though he was slowed late in the season by a biceps injury as well. Fernandez is slated to make his season debut tomorrow against the Tigers in Miami.
- As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, only three teams in the past decade have kept two Rule 5 Draft picks for the entirety of a season, but manager Pete Mackanin tells him that the Phillies are aiming to become the fourth by retaining both outfielder Tyler Goeddel and lefty Daniel Stumpf for the entire year. “They’ve both shown enough ability where they can be part of the future,” Mackanin told Gelb. “…It’s hard to turn away young talent and that’s what our goal is, to keep them.” For the time being, Goeddel will platoon with Cedric Hunter, per Gelb. And while Stumpf could initially be used as a situational lefty, the uncertainty that is permeating the Phillies’ bullpen gives each reliever a chance to see his role grow, he adds. Additionally, Gelb notes that while Carlos Ruiz got the nos on Opening Day, it’ll be the younger Cameron Rupp seeing the lion’s share of playing time behind the plate this year. Ruiz is earning $8.5MM in the final season of a three-year deal.