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Braves, Notre Dame play Rays in spring

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Spring training will have a familiar look for the Devil Rays in 2001.

Like last year, the Rays will open against a college team (Notre Dame), play the Braves at home on the first weekend and make a Latin America trip (to Mexico City) midway through.

And -- perhaps most important to fans -- the Rays will have the same ticket prices as 2000.

Tampa Bay released its spring training schedule Tuesday, and the schedule includes the usual suspects parading through St. Petersburg. The Rays have a 14-game home schedule predominantly filled with teams training in central and west Florida.

The Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Orioles and Expos, who train on the state's East Coast, are not on the schedule. The Dodgers have a two-game series at Legends Field against the Yankees on March 17-18.

After a trip to Venezuela last year, the Rays will visit Mexico City on March 17-18 for a pair of games with Pittsburgh. The Rays have a working agreement with the Mexico City Tigers of the Mexican League.

Partly because of the Mexico City trip, the Rays' home schedule is light on weekend games. The Rays are at home for three of 10 games on Saturday and Sunday. All games begin at 1:05 p.m.

Reserved seat tickets are $14 (field boxes), $11 (loge boxes), $9 and $6 (grandstand). General admission and berm tickets are $4 and will be sold only on game days. Season tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling (727) 825-3250 or by visiting the Rays offices at Tropicana Field.

Individual game tickets go on sale Jan. 6 at Tropicana Field and at Devil Rays Dugout stores, and through Ticketmaster at outlets and by phone at (727) 898-RAYS and (813) 282-RAYS. Advance tickets will not be sold at Florida Power Park.

DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona is free-agent Mark Grace's most likely destination for next year, his agent said, even though a Chicago newspaper quoted Grace as expressing a desire to return to the Cubs for his 14th season.

ROCKIES: Pitcher Pedro Astacio will be allowed to remain in the country despite pleading guilty Nov. 14 to a domestic violence charge. A Dominican Republic citizen, he initially was charged with third-degree assault after being accused of punching his wife, Ana. He pleaded guilty Nov. 14 to a misdemeanor charge of telephone harassment. Joe Greene, director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service office in Denver, said the plea does not support deportation.

YANKEES: The best tickets at Yankees Stadium will cost $65 next season, up $10. ... A full World Series share was worth $294,783.41 to New York players, down from $307,808.70 last year and $312,042.41 in 1998.

-- Times wire services contributed to this report.

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