PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Among the highlights of Saturday's first workout for Rays pitchers and catchers -- according to manager Joe Maddon -- was the sensation of looking out to one of the pitching groups and noticing they were all left-handers.
"Eight left-handers and all eight of them have really good arms," Maddon said of the group that contained David Price, Erik Bedard, Cesar Ramos and Jake McGee, to name a few -- and lefty Matt Moore wasn't even a part of the group. "I don't think I've ever seen that. And not the fact that all eight of them were left-handed, but all of them are really good. [C.J.] Riefenhauser at the end and [Mike] Montgomery. It's a nice group."
Maddon did not deliver his entire message for the coming year, noting to the group that he would do so once the full squad showed, but he did manage to tell the group "we're going to eat last," which seems to be rounding into the team mantra for 2014, as winners eat last, as per the Tampa Bay manager.
Rays pitchers struggled to do their part controlling the running game in 2013, so Maddon did parcel out a portion of his time on the platform Saturday to encourage his pitchers to do whatever work needed to be done during the spring to fix any problems they have in keeping baserunners at bay.
"Don't wait, start fixing it now," Maddon said.
Maddon complimented the entire group for being accountable and how well they appeared in relation to their conditioning.
"They all look good," Maddon said.
Maddon praised the proactive work of Ryan Hanigan for the way the team's new catcher has worked to get to know the staff prior to camp beginning. He also spoke glowingly of how new closer Grant Balfour looked when throwing, and that he appeared healthy. Of note, before Balfour signed with the Rays, he signed a deal with the Orioles that fell through when Baltimore maintained that the veteran reliever had some physical issues.
Save for right-handers Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval (visa issues), all of the 40 pitchers and catchers expected to be in camp were on hand.
Flattered Karns ready to live up to trade
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- New acquisition Nathan Karns was in Rays camp Saturday morning for the first pitchers and catchers workout.
The Rays acquired the right-hander Thursday in a trade with the Nationals that sent catcher Jose Lobaton, outfielder Drew Vettleson and left-hander Felipe Rivero to Washington.
Karns packed his stuff in Viera, Fla., on Friday, and arrived in Port Charlotte by mid-afternoon. He appeared pleased to be in his new surroundings.
"Yeah, I mean, I've never been involved in trades, so it's kind of like the whole process of really grasping the whole situation, it still hasn't hit me that I'm here in Tampa yet," Karns said. "But I'm excited that I have this opportunity and the organization came after me and got me. It's something I'm really thankful for. I want to return the favor and give them the player they traded for."
Karns allowed that it was flattering to have a team interested enough to trade for him.
"When I first heard about the trade, from my knowledge, it was just a one-for-one deal," he said. "Then when I found out it was three-for-one, it really opened my eyes about how interested they were in me and believed in me."
Flattery aside, Karns knows what he must do now that he's in camp.
"Just have to get back to work and make the most of my opportunity," he said.
Cobb confident in Rays' identity this spring
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Count Alex Cobb among the many who are optimistic about the Rays' chances this season.
"I feel like we have the most talent on paper going into a Spring Training than we've had in the past," the right-hander said. "That doesn't always translate, but just the excitement coming into Spring Training, not having any questions about who's going to fill what position and where are we going to get a guy.
"We have our identity kind of set. For us to have all known each other and have a lot of ups and downs last year, and have that playoff experience under our belt, as a team it's going to be nothing but beneficial for us, starting the season off and going through Spring Training together."
With normal routine, Price able to put away 'Mr. Sock'
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Last spring, Rays ace David Price was coming off an American League Cy Young Award season. Due to the many accolades he received, Price's workout routines were occasionally disrupted.
In said cases, Price would have to rely on a "sock" workout, where he would put a sock over his arm with a baseball inside of it, making for a drill that allowed him to throw a baseball while inside.
Price put away "Mr. Sock" this past offseason and returned to his roots, which meant working out at Vanderbilt University.
Looking back on his situation, Price said he had to "play with the cards I was dealt" last season.
"I heard about how tough it was [dealing with the awards circuit] before it even happened," Price said. "It was just as tough, if not a little bit more [than expected]. I had a very good offseason this year and I'm looking forward to [the coming season]."
So will "Mr. Sock" return if Price claims a second Cy Young Award this season?
"No, I'll be able to accommodate better," he said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.