Baseball: Tampa Bay Rays Home Opener

Tuesday, April 8

click to enlarge LONG-BALL SPECIALIST: Rays slugger Carlos Pena set a team record with 47 home runs last year - Skip Milos
Skip Milos
LONG-BALL SPECIALIST: Rays slugger Carlos Pena set a team record with 47 home runs last year

The Tampa Bay Rays finished in a tie for first place in this spring's Grapefruit League, but after splitting series with the Yankees and Orioles to start the regular season, they go into tonight's home opener with a .500 record. Still, optimism for the 2008 Rays campaign has been running high. A few weeks ago, ace starting pitcher Scott Kazmir even used the "P" word. In the immortal words of Jim Mora: "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs! You kidding me?" Still, the Rays are much improved from last year, with standouts Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena coming off an excellent 2007, and a revamped bullpen looking to do more than give away every game in the seventh inning. If nothing else, expect a good show from the Rays this season — which they're going to need if they want to improve their shot at a new waterfront stadium in downtown St. Pete, a proposal that voters may be deciding upon this fall. Tampa Bay Rays Home Opener, Tues., April 8, 7 p.m., Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, $9-$212, 888-FAN-RAYS,

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