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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays Season Outlook & Preview



Two Tampa Bay Rays players on the field during a game. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images.

TAMPA, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – It is Opening Day weekend across Major League Baseball. For the defending AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays, that means a home series against the division opponent Baltimore on Friday.

24-year-old Shane McClanah will get the start for the Rays who went 100-62 during the 2021 season, the first time the team reached 100 wins in franchise history. McClanahan played his college ball at nearby USF, and is no stranger to getting the ball in big games. He went 10-6 on the year with a 3.43 ERA and has six postseason appearances including the World Series in 2020.

Star pitcher Tyler Glasnow is likely out for the season while fellow pitchers Michael Wacha and Collin McHugh along with Nelson Cruz left the team in free agency. Fan Favorites Joey Wendle and Austin Meadows were traded to the Marlins and Padres respectively.

So where does that put the season outlook for Tampa Bay? Most baseball outlets have the Rays in the middle of the AL East standings with the Blue Jays and Yankees as the favorites, both having major offseason additions to bolster their lineups. Despite being one of the best teams in baseball the last several years, the Rays have a tough time getting respect.

Wander Franco signed a massive 11-year, $183 million deal that will keep him with the club through 2033 and an option for an additional year. Having a superstar in Franco coupled with star Randy Arozena, Yandy Diaz, Brandon Lowe, and a team that can hit and play defense with the best teams in baseball is a positive sign.

The question for the Rays will be their starting pitching depth. Behind McClanahan is new addition Corey Kluber and youngsters Drew Rasmussen, Luis Patino, and Ryan Yarbrough. Behind them is one of a very reliable bullpen with set-up man Pete Fairbanks and closer Andrew Kittredge.

Fans have numerous opportunities to see an exciting brand of Rays baseball in April alone with home series against the Orioles, Athletics, Red Sox, Mariners, and Twins.


Todd Grasley is a sports reporter for Florida National News Tampa. |

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After a 99-Day Lockout, Baseball is Officially Back



Tropicana Field. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – After a 99-day lockout the players union and owners have finally struck a deal on America’s National Pastime, and the best news of all, a full 162-game season. It’s a decision that comes as a sigh of relief to baseball fans nationwide who feared the wait could lead to the cancellation of the season, much like it did in 1994-1995.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who took a lot of flac from outsiders throughout the process, was relieved to hear from MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark that the two sides had come to an agreement.

“I have a great job, but one of the negative parts of it is when you have a situation like this, where you’re depriving the fans of the game…I felt a great weight from that,” Manfred said in an interview with “When we learned that they ratified, that weight came off my shoulders.”

While the new Collective Bargaining Agreement improves conditions for MLB players, it also comes with several rule changes to the game, including the postseason being expanded to 12 teams, a universal DH, doubleheaders now consisting of nine innings, eliminating the rule of having baserunners to start extra innings.

The 2022 season will start on April 7th for most teams, with the initial missed games at the beginning being made up in doubleheaders throughout the year and at the end of the season.

Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay Rays are ready for the 2022 season. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay Rays are ready for the 2022 season. Photo: Todd Grasley/Florida National News.

As for Spring Training baseball in Florida and Arizona, players can report to voluntary workouts starting March 11th with games starting the week of March 18th.

Check out the complete schedule of Grapefruit League (Florida) and Cactus League (Arizona) games and keep it locked on Florida National News for coverage of Major League Baseball throughout the season.

Let’s play ball!


Todd Grasley is a sports reporter for Florida National News Tampa. |

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MLB Players Vote to End Lockout, Salvaging 162-Game Season



Atlanta Braves minor leaguers are shown at spring training baseball camp in North Port, Fla., Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Players have voted to accept Major League Baseball’s latest offer for a new labor deal, paving the way to end a 99-day lockout and salvage a 162-game regular season that will begin April 7.

The union’s executive board approved the agreement in a 26-12 vote Thursday, pending ratification by all players, a person familiar with the balloting said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no announcement was authorized.

MLB sent the players an offer Thursday and gave them until 3 p.m. to accept in order to play a full season. The union announced the player vote around 3:25 p.m. Owners planned to hold a ratification vote later in the day.

The agreement will allow training camps to open this week in Florida and Arizona, more than three weeks after they were scheduled to on Feb. 16. Fans can start making plans to be at Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium and Camden Yards next month. Opening day is being planned a little more than a week behind the original date on March 31.

The deal will also set off a rapid-fire round of free agency. Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman and Kris Bryant are among 138 big leaguers still without a team, including some who might benefit from the adoption of a universal designated hitter.

The sport’s new collective bargaining agreement will also expand the playoffs to 12 teams and introduce incentives to limit so-called “tanking.” The minimum salary will rise from $570,500 to about $700,000 and the luxury tax threshold will increase from $210 million to around $230 million this year, a slight loosening for the biggest spenders such as the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Red Sox. A new bonus pool was established for players not yet eligible for arbitration, a way to boost salaries for young stars.

Commissioner Rob Manfred had set a Tuesday deadline for a deal that would preserve a 162-game schedule along with full pay and service time required for players to reach free agency. Talks spilled past the deadline and Manfred announced more cancellations Wednesday, increasing the total to 184 of the 2,230 games.

After yet another snag, this time over management’s desire for an international amateur draft, the deal came together Thursday afternoon and capped nearly a year of talks that saw pitchers Max Scherzer and Andrew Miller take prominent roles as union spokesmen.

Players had fumed for years about the deal that expired Dec. 1, which saw payrolls decline for 4% in 2021 compared to the last full season, back to their 2015 level. The union had an ambitious negotiating stance in talks that began last spring, asking for free-agency rights to increase with an age-based backstop and for an expansion of salary arbitration to its level from 1974-86.

In the late stages, the level and rates of the luxury tax, designed as a break on spending, became the key to a deal. Players think that too low a threshold and too high a rate acts tantamount to a salary cap, which the union fought off with a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95.

The agreement came after three days of shuttle negotiations between the MLB offices in midtown Manhattan and the players’ association headquarters, three blocks away.

Despite hundreds of hours of threats and counter-threats, the sides are set to avoid regular-season games being canceled by labor conflict for the first time since the 1994-95 strike. Games originally announced as canceled by Manfred were changed to postponed, and MLB will modify the original schedule.

The deal came at a cost, though, with years of public rancor again casting both owners and players as money obsessed. Spring training in Arizona and Florida was disrupted for the third straight year following two exhibition seasons altered by the coronavirus pandemic. Exhibition games had been scheduled to start Feb. 26.

Players will have about 28 days of training rather than the usual 42 for pitchers and catchers.

In some ways, the negotiations were similar to those in 1990, when a lockout started Feb. 15 and ended with a four-year deal announced 1:18 a.m. on March 19.

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Fans Chant `We want baseball!′ But Won’t Get it Anytime Soon



Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during a news conference after negotiations with the players' association toward a labor deal, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Manfred said he is canceling the first two series of the season that was set to begin March 31, dropping the schedule from 162 games to likely 156 games at most. Manfred said the league and union have not made plans for future negotiations. Players won't be paid for missed games. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — As Rob Manfred stood behind a podium in the left-field corner of Roger Dean Stadium and announced that opening day was canceled, a cluster of fans gathered outside the spring training home of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

They had something to say, too.

“We want baseball!” the group chanted at the MLB commissioner.

They won’t get it anytime soon.

With owners and players unable to agree on a labor contract to replace the collective bargaining agreement that expired Dec. 1, Manfred followed through with his threat and canceled the first two series for each of the 30 major league teams. The announcement Tuesday cut each club’s schedule from 162 games to likely 156 at most. A total of 91 games were erased.

“We’ve seen this coming in a sense,” free agent reliever Andrew Miller said. “It’s unfortunate. But this isn’t new to us. This is not shocking.”

More than pure numbers are a cause of the contention. Players are seething over their allegations of service-time manipulation and Major League Baseball’s increased number of rebuilding clubs, which the union calls tanking.

Issues such as the size and format of the postseason have become divisive.

“A core of this negotiation’s to increase competition and there’s no way we’re leaving the table without something that does that,” Miller said. “We’re not going to do anything to sacrifice this competition of the season. Anything that points towards mediocrity, that’s the antithesis of our game and what we’re about as players.”

The luxury tax may be the single most difficult issue. MLB proposed raising the tax threshold from $210 million to $220 million in each of the next three seasons, $224 million in 2025 and $230 million in 2026.

A higher threshold likely would lead to more spending by large-market teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We have a payroll disparity problem,” Manfred said, “and to weaken the only mechanism in the agreement that’s designed to promote some semblance of competitive balance is just something that I don’t think the club group is prepared to do right now.”

Players are unhappy over how the tax system worked during the last labor contract, which included surtaxes to discourage high spending.

“We’re seeing it act as a salary cap,” Mets pitcher Max Scherzer said. “The San Diego Padres have the higher payroll than the New York Yankees.”

Players asked for a $238 million threshold this year, $244 million in 2023, $250 million in 2024, $256 million in 2025 and $263 million in 2026. The union aims higher to encourage teams to boost payrolls — and salaries.

Manfred vowed players will not receive salary or major league service for games missed, exacerbating already visceral anger of the roughly 1,200 players locked into a contest of will against 30 controlling owners. Manfred maintained daily interleague play made rescheduling impossible.

“To say they won’t reschedule games if games are canceled or they won’t pay players for those games that are canceled is solely their position,” union negotiator Bruce Meyer said. “We would have a different position.”

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