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Who will throw out the first pitch at Rays opening day 2023?

A long-time Rays pitcher will make his return to Tropicana Field on Thursday.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — To celebrate the start of their 25th anniversary season, it was only right the Rays honor someone who's played a big part in their accomplished history.

Long-time Rays pitcher James Shields will return to Tropicana Field on Thursday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. But before he steps up to the mound, he'll officially retire as a Tampa Bay Ray.

Shields, 41, was drafted by the Rays in 2000 and began playing for the major league team in 2006. He pitched for seven seasons, and four opening days, during his time in Tampa Bay. Shields was traded to the Kansas City Royals in 2012 and played for the San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox until becoming a free agent in 2018.

“It’s a cool honor. I’m stoked to be here. Especially opening day, that’s a special moment. I was able to throw a few opening days here, so it’s definitely a good moment," Shields said this week, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Shields has solidified his place in Rays history, still holding the franchise record for most innings pitched, shutouts and complete games, according to BaseballReference.com.

The Rays will take on the Detroit Tigers at 3:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. 

It's sold out, but you can watch the game live on MLB.TV. It will also air on TV/radio: Bally Sports Sun; WDAE 95.3-FM, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish) and the Rays Radio Network.  

You can check out our list of local sports bars in St. Petersburg and Tampa where you can watch the game. 

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