The Devil Rays filed out of the clubhouse, led by manager Larry Rothschild. Bringing up the rear, wearing the biggest smile of all, was Tampa Bay owner Vince Naimoli.
Fans along a fence chanted "Vince, Vince, Vince" and the managing general partner of the AL expansion club later mingled and signed autographs.The first day of spring training for one of baseball's two new teams was not business as usual. It did go smoothly, though, except for the franchise's first injury.
Catcher Cesar Devarez, a non-roster invitee, dislocated his left knee cap during a blocking drill. He will undergo an MRI on Monday and is expected to be sidelined a minimum of six to eight weeks.
"It's an exciting day. It's a historic day. It's the first time we've taken the field as a team, and how many times can you ever do that?" Rothschild said.
"It's another milestone," said Naimoli, who was awarded the fran-chise more than two years ago, ending the Tampa Bay area's two-decade pursuit of a team of its own.
"It's nice to finally see the major leaguers out there," he said. "They sure fill out the uniforms better than the minor leaguers."
The Devils Rays were one of several teams holding their initial spring workouts Sunday.
The American League champion Cleveland Indians began camp in Winter Haven, Fla., with manager Mike Hargrove defending reliever Jose Mesa.
Mesa, who couldn't close out Game 7 of the World Series for the Cleveland Indians last October, may have to fight for his job this spring if Hargrove decides to have an open tryout as the club's stop-per.
In Tampa, Fla., Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, who avoided salary arbitration by signing a one-year, $3.75 million contract on Saturday, said he hoped he could work out a long-term deal to stay in pinstripes.
In other news, San Diego signed Rob Dibble to a minor league contract. Dibble, 34, has been out of baseball since 1995, when he pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.
Dibble, a two-time All-Star and MVP of the 1990 NLCS for Cincinnati, has a 27-25 career record with a 2.98 ERA and 89 saves.