by Steve Carney / 620 WDAE
The Tampa Bay Rays held their first full-squad workout Thursday in Port Charlotte with 61 of the 64 players present for manager Joe Maddon's initial speech to the team.
"I think I got the message out there that I wanted to," Maddon said after practice. "I anticipate the work that we're looking for; I anticipate the kind of togetherness among that group that's necessary."
The Rays skipper also used the popular phrase "Eat Last," which was given to him by third baseman Evan Longoria, to describe what has been the team's upltmate goal every season.
"What he means by that is to play the last day of the year and win," Longoria said. "That's always the goal."
While pitchers and catchers worked in the bullpen, and position players took ground balls and then pop flies, second baseman Ben Zobrist was held out of practice after hurting his back Wednesday.
"I was in the weight room yesterday and I tweaked it," Zobrist explained. "It's just tight and sore right now. Just going to have to wait a couple of days before I get started."
BETEMIT ADDED TO VISA TROUBLES LIST: The list of Rays players having problems procuring their visas has now reached three, as minor-league infielder Wilson Betemit did not report on time because of the issue. Betemit joins pitchers Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval, who remain in the Dominican Republic.
FOUR SUMMER CONCERTS ANNOUNCED: The Rays also announced Thursday four of their five summer concerts for the regular season. Rock group Weezer will play following following the June 7 game against Seattle. Legendary sould group The O-Jays will take the stage following the June 21 contest against the Astros. For the kids, both the Imagination Movers (July 27 against Toronto) and The Wiggles (September 7 against the Orioles) will also return to Tropicana Field.
FOR FRIDAY: The full squad will again be out on the fields at Charlotte Sports Park. Practice will start at 9:00, as the team has a meeting in the afternoon.
Listen to interviews with Joe Maddon, Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and James Loney below!