By Samantha Russo — 3/9/2011
The Tampa Bay Rays lost a lot of key players this off season. But, the club gained two invaluable veterans with playoff experience. Former Red Sox teammates Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are back together but this time in Tampa Bay. The pair signed one-year contracts to fill holes in the depleted Rays roster. Damon and Ramirez have been contributors to two teams that have won World Series titles and are excited to play with the Rays. “I think it’s great all these kids already know how to play it’s just a matter of getting better. You’ve got to get better year in and year out. You always have to go out and prove yourself.” Damon said.
Damon and Ramirez will need to prove themselves this season. There are some concerns over their age. Damon is 37-years-old and Ramirez will be turning 40-years-old this May. There is also reason to worry about “Manny being Manny.” During his time with the Dodgers and White Sox, if he wasn’t injured, he was a distraction. But Damon sees a different Manny with the Rays, “You know Manny’s been great. He’s hitting the cover off the ball right now so hopefully we all can get to where he is…and then we’ll be a very tough team.”
The Tampa Bay team is not at the same caliber as it was last year. There are struggles in the bullpen and the offense. But as long as Damon and Ramirez play to their potential they will stabilize the diminished clubhouse.