The Tampa Bay Rays begin to tackle their questions Wednesday afternoon.
The Rays play their first preseason game Wednesday against the Nationals at Charlotte Sports Park. Game time is 1:05 p.m.
For the Rays, not a lot is certain about the coming season. Tampa Bay is coming off an injury-plagued season it finished 80-82.
Among the questions:
- Will Chris Archer, the ace of the staff, be a bigger winner this year? He was only 12-13 last year, and he is only 32-32 as a big leaguer.
- Can newcomer Corey Dickerson hit without the benefit of the thin Colorado air? His home splits were beneficial to him playing at Coors last year.
- Is there room for incumbent first baseman James Loney? Much of the playing time has been parceled off to Steve Pearce and Logan Morrison, a pair of players who need to rebound greatly from a year ago.
- Can Brad Boxberger hold down the ninth inning? Boxberger lost 10 games and blew six saves last year.
- Who will replace Jake McGee as the setup guy?
- Can the team hold on for the return of pitcher Alex Cobb, or is it destined to bring up rookie phenom Blake Snell?
- Can Rene Rivera figure into the catching competition? And if not, can Hank Conger overcome a horrible season a year ago in which he threw out only one of 38 base runners.
- Will the late-season success of Mikie Mahtook carry over, or has the Rays’ outfield become too crowded?
- Is this the year Desmond Jennings stays healthy?
- Can Evan Longoria put up the kind of numbers he once did?
- Can Brad Miller be the team’s everyday shortstop?
- Can Logan Forsythe repeat his success of a year ago?
- Will Steven Souza return to health, and will his newfound comfort help improve his batting average?
- Will a year on the bench help manager Kevin Cash?