Athletic Trainer Bios
Tampa Bay Rays
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Head Athletic Trainer

Joe Benge

Joseph Benge, 40, is entering his first year as head Major League Athletic Trainer with the Tampa Bay Rays becoming the fourth head Athletic Trainer in Rays franchise history, following Jamie Reed (1997-2002), Ken Crenshaw (2003-05) and Ron Porterfield (2006-17). He has spent the last seven seasons in the Rays organization, including the last six (2012-17) as minor league medical coordinator, overseeing all minor league athletic trainers and rehabilitation with minor league players while assisting the major league club. He was named 2015 Minor League Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) and served as the athletic trainer for the World Team at the Futures Game in San Diego in 2016. Joe joined the Rays organization in 2011 as the athletic trainer for Triple-A Durham, following 10 seasons (2001-2010) as an athletic trainer in the Baltimore Orioles system. In total, Joe has served as an athletic trainer for teams in Bluefield, WV; Aberdeen, MD; Salisbury, MD; and Bowie, MD reaching Double-A Bowie in his final seasons with Baltimore. Joe has also spent time in winter ball assignment in La Romana, Dominican Republic (2001-2002, 2002-2003) as well as Honolulu, HI (Honolulu Sharks) in 2007. Prior to that he graduated from Loyola (MD) University with a B.S. in biology in 1999, and received his master’s degree in kinesiology from Fresno Pacific University in 2010. He resides in Sarasota, FL and has a daughter Isla, age 7.

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Asst. Athletic Trainer

Mark Vinson

Mark begins his thirteenth season with the Rays organization and eighth in his current position of major league assistant athletic trainer. Previously he served as the minor league medical coordinator from 2008 through 2010 and as the athletic trainer for Durham in 2007, and Montgomery in 2006. He spent four years (2001-2004) as an athletic trainer in the Texas Rangers organization. Mark received a Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Training from Bluefield (Va.) College, where he was also a pitcher on the baseball team. He earned a Master’s of Education at the University of Virginia in 1999. He has been a certified athletic trainer (ATC) since 1998, as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) since 2000. A native of Pearisburg, VA, Mark and his wife, Mary Carolyn, reside in St. Petersburg, FL.

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Asst. Athletic Trainer

Mike Sandoval

Mike Sandoval joins the Major League athletic training staff as assistant athletic trainer after six seasons (2012-2017) as an athletic trainer with the Triple-A Durham Bulls. Next year will be his 32nd season in professional baseball, including 25 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. From 2001-11, he was the Pirates assistant athletic trainer and major league rehab coordinator. He began his professional career in 1987 as athletic trainer for the Watertown Pirates of the New York-Penn League. He has also worked with Rookie-level Princeton (1988), Class-A Salem (1989), Double-A Harrisburg (1990), Double-A Carolina (1991, 1997-98), Triple-A Buffalo (1992-94), Triple-A Calgary (1995) and Double-A Altoona (1999-2000). Mike graduated from New Mexico State University in 1988 with a degree in physical education and sports medicine. He and his wife, Dodie, have a son, Michael Jr.

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Major League Medical Coordinator

Paul Harker

Paul Harker, 48, is in his thirteenth year with the Major League team and first as Major League Medical Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Rays. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University in 1991. Paul spent 6 seasons (1991-1996) working as a minor league athletic trainer for the Seattle Mariners organization. He was hired by the Rays organization in November of 1996. In 1997, he worked as the athletic trainer for the Rays Florida State League affiliate (St. Petersburg Devil Rays), and then spent the 1998-2002 seasons as the athletic trainer for the Rays International League affiliate (Durham Bulls). During the 2003-2005 seasons, he served as the Rays minor league athletic training and rehabilitation coordinator. In December of 2005, Paul was promoted to the position of Major League Assistant Athletic Trainer. In 2009, Paul shared honors with Ron Porterfield and Nick Paparesta as “Major League Athletic Training Staff of the Year.” In 2015 Paul was honored to work the Major League All Star Game in Cincinnati. Paul, his wife Julie, and their children Derek, Cameron, and Paige reside in Parrish, Fla.