1. The Devil Rays will have new uniforms in 2008, including a new color scheme. The organization toyed with the idea of renaming the team, but have instead opted to perform an exorcism, casting out the “devil” and making them the Tampa Bay Rays.
2. The Devil Rays think part of B.J. Upton’s offensive struggles are the result of concern over his defensive problems. So to lessen his worry, they plan to give him more to do.
The St. Pete Times is reporting that in addition to Upton playing shortstop and third, the Rays will have him work at second and in the outfield this spring to explore the possibility of turning him into a super-utility-type such as the Angels’ Chone Figgins.
From the St. Pete Times:
“I would like to take the pressure off his defense somewhat. Everything has been about his defense,” manager Joe Maddon said. “During the last couple of years, it’s been all about being the shortstop of the future, and then you throw him over to third base and it’s about becoming the third baseman of the future.
Okay, Joe. That’s one way to go. Or, you could just give the guy a position and let him stay there long enough to learn it. Whatever. Either one works.
3. The Rays will do yoga in spring training. They’ll have morning classes three times a week.
4. A half-dozen Japanese papers and a TV crew plan to cover new Devil Rays 3B Akinori Iwamura on a regular basis, at least through May. A Japanese travel agent has told the Rays he is bringing a group in April from Iwamura’s hometown. While Iwamura said Uwajima is known for tangerines and yellowtails, its “principal claim of fame” – and this is straight from the Rays media guide – is the Taga-jinja Shrine, a “giant phallus carved out of log.” The 12-foot carving is part of an ancient fertility shrine and adjacent to a sex museum. — St. Pete Times.