Published: Feb 26, 2013 5:21 PM EST
Updated: Feb 26, 2013 5:24 PM EST

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - It's spring training season in Charlotte County! The Tampa Bay Rays were up to bat Tuesday afternoon taking on the Houston Astros.

The sights, smells and sounds of spring training.

"The crack of the bat, hearing the ball hit the glove," says Rick Izzo.

The Tampa Bay Rays are back in Charlotte County and their fans are flooding into the Charlotte sports park to show their support.

"We just absolutely love the Rays, try to get to as many games as we can," says Andrew Dropla. 

Dropla and his family have followed the Rays for years.  But this is the first time they're enjoying spring training and the kids are having just as much fun as the adults.

"They have a desire now because of the Rays to play baseball, to play softball so its really awesome! They just can't wait, its been for the past week, is there a baseball game today? A baseball game today? They're just so excited for it," says Ashley Wright.

Manager Joe Maddon says he always looks forward to spending time in Charlotte County, and with lots of new talent, he says he couldn't wait for this season't first pitch.

"If you were in my shoes or this coach's shoes, this might be the best group we've ever had.  Even in my Angel days, on a major league level we just have a bunch of guys that are willing to listen and to try new things, coached and talked to," Maddon says.

Cleveland visitor Rick Izzo says that young talent is what he's most excited about.

"You'll pick out a guy and he'll stand out to ya and you end up watching him through the season and you'll say I saw that guy back in spring training," he says.

Manager Joe Maddon also tells us fans can expect to see Maddon gnome heads for sale this season.