The Tampa Bay Rays open their 20th season Thursday with more than a few changes in store.
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The team is beginning the year with plenty of changes on the diamond, as well as to Tropicana Field.
The often maligned home of the Rays will feature a sold out Opening Day audience for the 13th straight year.
The organization has invested $7 million in improvements to the Trop during the past off season. There will be new concession items, self-serve food ordering stations and a newly-installed turf on the field. The team also recently announced its intention to pursue a new stadium in Ybor City.
There are plenty of changes in the dugout as well as the team said goodbye to Mr. Ray, Evan Longoria. The last remaining member of the team's 2008 World Series team, Longoria was traded to the San Francisco Giants.
The team also lost pitchers Alex Cobb and Jake Odorizzi and said goodbye to Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson and last year's team MVP Steven Souza, Jr.
The Rays still have pitcher Chris Archer, a 2-time All-Star who will start today's 4 p.m. game against the Boston Red Sox.
The team also retained Gold Glove-winning outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and added Denard Span and sluggers C.J. Cron and Carlos Gomez in the off season.
Still, it may be a tough season for the new-look Rays in the always competitive AL East Division against rivals Boston, New York, Baltimore and Toronto.
But that doesn't deter Rays manager Kevin Cash, who says his squad will compete.
"We're hungry to succeed, I know that. There's a lot guys in that clubhouse right now that want to win, want to perform, want to get deeper than what we've done, individually and as a team," Cash, beginning his fourth season with the Rays, said.
"Competitive in this division is not good enough. ... We realize we've got to win," the manager added. "We're going to learn a bunch in the first two weeks. We've got a fun schedule to go be a part of."