To the plethora of statistics, video clips and scouting reports accessible with the tap of an iPad, add an even more cutting-edge interactive tool that players began using in game preparation this season: virtual reality.

The Tampa Bay Rays are among several teams that have made six-figure investments in a baseball hitting simulator known as an iCube. Players don 3-D motion-tracking glasses, step into a small room that replicates a stadium and have a pitcher on a screen throw to them in true detailed form.

« It’s a huge advantage because sometimes you don’t see guys very often, » Rays outfielder Steven Souza said before last Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers in Tropicana Field.

« Take Alex Wood. We’re going to see him one time this year, maybe once in the next six years. So being able to see him on the screen, what it actually looks like, is going to make for a little more familiarity before we get in the box. »

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