15 more runs and 14 more hits and the Rays have now won six of eight. Ben Zobrist and Jonny Gomes each homered. It was Gomes’ third of the spring. J. P. Howell staked his claim to the 5th spot in the rotation by pitching 5 innings of 1-run ball giving up 4 hits and striking out 5. The most important number in his stat line was 1, as in 1 walk. Howell’s ability to keep runners off base may just give him the edge over Edwin Jackson.
Carl Crawford is the latest Rays to miss a game with a sore muscle as he sat out last night with a tight groin. Jon Switzer was placed on the DL with tendinitis in his shoulder, virtually guaranteeing that the Rays will start the season without a lefty in the bullpen.
Here is an interesting (and sobering) attempt at projectingAkinori Iwamura’s numbers based on his Japanese statistics. They looked at six offensive categories for all Japanese hitters currently in the big leagues and averaged the differences between their Japanese stats and their big league stats. Over 600 at bats, Muu-Rah’s numbers would be.287 BA, .340 OBP, .441 SLG, 82 runs, 18 HR and 75 RBI. Well, we already know that Joe Maddon will only be starting Iwamura against righties, so 450 at bats is more realistic. That would translate into 62 runs, 14 HR and 56 RBI. We are not surprised about the drop-off in power, but we were expecting something a little better than Ronnie Belliard.
We have teased Elijah Dukesat times, and have been critical at times, but we have never wanted him anywhere but the Rays lineup. We have been teased by the minor league numbers and the scouts reports. The idea that some scouts think he could end up being better than any of the three current starters in the outfield, just gives us goose bumps. After reading this sportsIllustrated.com piece, Mr. Dukes may be the one player we are most looking forward to seeing on opening day. Is it wrong that we are secretly hoping that Rocco Baldelli is limited to DH duty the first week?
One pitcher that hasn’t been mentioned for the closer’s role is the one pitcher who had the job to start 2006, Dan Miceli. Miceli says that throwing in the World Baseball Classic during spring training last year threw of his schedule and could have led to the injury that sidelined him for half the season. This spring he has lost 30 pounds and is working on regaining his velocity. If he does, he will be in the mix for saves.