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Tampa Bay Rays roster and schedule for 2020 season

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The 2020 MLB season is now a 60-game dash, starting on July 23 and ending, hopefully, with a full-size postseason in October. Between now and the start of the season, we’ll be giving quick capsule previews of each team, reminding you of where things stood back in Spring Training and where they stand now as we embark on what is sure to be the strangest season in baseball history. First up: The Tampa Bay Rays roster and schedule:

Rays ROSTER (projected) 

When the season opens on July 23-24, teams can sport rosters of up to 30 players, with a minimum of 25. Two weeks later, rosters must be reduced to 28 and then, two weeks after that, they must be reduced to 26. Teams will be permitted to add a 27th player for doubleheaders.

In light of that, there is a great degree of latitude for which specific players will break summer camp. For now, though, here are who we expect to be on the Rays roster to begin the season:

Catchers

Mike Zunino
Michael Perez

Infielders:

Ji-Man Choi
Brandon Lowe
Willy Adames
Yandy Diaz
Nate Lowe
Joey Wendle
Daniel Robertson

Outfielders

Austin Meadows
Hunter Renfroe
Kevin Kiermaier
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo
Jose Martinez
Randy Arozarena
Manuel Margot

Starters

Charlie Morton
Blake Snell
Tyler Glasnow
Yonny Chirinos
Ryan Yarbrough

Relievers

Brendan McKay
Trevor Richards
Nick Anderson
Diego Castillo
Jose Alvarado
Chaz Roe
Colin Poche
Oliver Drake
Peter Fairbanks
Andrew Kittredge
Jalen Beeks


BREAKDOWN:

Most of those positions — especially the pitching staff beyond, oh, the first three starters — are sort of flexible. I mean, I have 32 guys on there right now and there will only be 30 next week, and fewer after that. But the Rays have a lot of outfielders who can play a corner or who will DH and they have completely revolutionized pitcher utilization in the past couple of years. They bullpen to beat the band and will likely bullpen even harder in this short and strange season. Expect all of these names to make tons of appearances and a lot of names not listed here to shuffle in and out of the team’s larger roster and taxi squad at various times.

Which has certainly worked for them in the past. The depth and flexibility of their roster is a big reason the Rays are coming off consecutive 90+ win seasons and a postseason run last year that had them take the Houston Astros to five games in the ALDS. With the maturation of the young talent, the front office and manager Kevin Cash’s deft deployment of their talent, and a sprint of a season in which every inch taken is more important than ever, the Rays are a pretty popular pick to do well and to go far. If the Yankees’ health falters again — and if their luck in covering for all of those injuries isn’t as good as it was in 2019 — the Rays will be poised to take the AL East crown from them. Heck, it may not even take Yankees injuries. The Rays are simply good and could just power past the Bombers, even if they’re at relatively full strength.

RAYS SCHEDULE:

Every team will play 60 games. Teams will be playing 40 games against their own division rivals and 20 interleague games against the corresponding geographic division from the other league. Six of the 20 interleague games will be “rivalry” games.

Rays home stands will be July 24-28 (Blue Jays, Braves), August 4-9 (Red Sox, Yankees), August 21-27 (Blue Jays, Orioles), September 4-6 (Marlins), September 10-16 (Red Sox, Nationals), and September 25-27 (Phillies).

The entire Rays roster and schedule can be seen here.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”