Do It Today: Home-Opener Series, Rays vs. Yankees.

By Eric Snider.

Admit it, you’ve wondered: Was the Their starting pitchers have a year’s more experience, but they’re still young and spry. In fact, the team has a logjam in its pitching staff and may have to trade a guy they would sooner not trade. Leftfielder Carl Crawford (pictured) is over the injuries that nagged him last year. CF B.J. Upton is recovering nicely from shoulder surgery and is expected to miss only a short stretch in the early season. First baseman Carlos Peña had abdominal surgery but is close to full strength. Now for the flip side: Baseball is the hardest of the major sports for teams to contend year in and year out. In the recent past, Cinderella clubs have dropped off the map the year after reaching the playoffs. That is something I do not expect from the Rays, though. The organization seems too sound from top to bottom; the payroll has “ballooned” to $60 million; the nucleus of players is intact and most are under contract. But … the Rays still play in the American League East, where the Yankees went on a spending spree in the off season, the Red Sox are routine challengers, and Toronto and Baltimore will likely improve. By the time the Rays open at home in a series against the Yankees starting this Monday, they’ll have played six games on the road, three each against Boston and Baltimore. Does anyone like the sound of 5-1? Home-Opener Series: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees, April 13-15, 7:08 p.m. Mon.-Tues., 4:08 p.m. Wed., Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg. Next up: Chicago White Sox, April 16-19. Go to raysbaseball.com. (Text by Eric Snider)

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