Tampa Bay Rays (38 days until Opening Day)
These links are starting to get out of hand. Is it just us or does it seem like the amount of Rays coverage has gone through the roof this Spring? We may have to make an executive decision to break up “The Hangover” into two posts. One in the morning and then one in the afternoon. We’ll see….
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- David Price faced major league batters for the first time yesterday during batting practice. [St. Pete Times]
Price’s command wasn’t perfect, but his form – and his fastball, slider and changeup – was good enough to earn plaudits from Rays brass, which suddenly flocked from all corners of the Naimoli complex to gather on Field 2 as the tall left-hander took the mound and claimed he didn’t notice the crowd.
“Perfectly fine,” pitching coach Jim Hickey said. “Very impressive.”
“He throws like (Francisco) Liriano up there,” Bartlett said. “Obviously he doesn’t have the changeup Liriano has just yet and the kid’s young, but they’ve probably got Liriano in the future. The guy has to work hard and he’ll be up there for a long time.”
- Troy Percival has taken well to his new role of team leader, spending time everyday talking baseball with all his teamates. [Herald-Tribune]
With coffee cup in hand, Percival goes from table to table. It doesn’t matter if it’s a group of veterans or a bunch of non-roster players who have little to no chance of making the major-league team, Percival stops to chat.
“We talked about the cutter,” said left-handed pitcher James Houser, a Sarasota High graduate. “The other day it was about the curveball. With me, it’s been all about baseball.”
“That’s the guy you ask,” Rays ace Scott Kazmir said. “Any question. I can’t think of anything you wouldn’t want to ask him.”
- Willy Aybar, Joel Guzman and Juan Salas all remain in the Dominican Republic unable to obtain visas to come to Spring Training. The Rays have asked for assistance from Major League Baseball but are unsure when the situation may be resolved. [Tampa Tribune]
- Many of the Rays players and coaches are getting to know Matt Garza the pitcher for the first time. And Garza appears to be maturing as a pitcher, finally realizing that he does not need to strike out every batter. Something we can only hope that Scott Kazmir learns sooner, rather than later. [Bradenton Herald]
“I was a strikeout pitcher. I was always trying to strike out the side, which wasn’t necessary because we had a good defense,” Garza said. “But if I pitched to contact, I could pitch six or seven innings. I did that until I got up there, and I changed a little bit. I changed back to a strikeout pitcher.”
- Last year BJ Upton spent much of Spring Training having to learn several new positions. This year, Upton is able to concentrate on one position and his hitting. [Tampa Tribune]
“It’s definitely night and day from last spring,” Upton said. “Back then, I wondered where I was going, but I fought through it.”
- Carlos Pena is confident he can become an even more complete hitter, even if he does not hit as many home runs in 2008. [Fox Sports]
- John Romano notes that Jeff Niemann may just be following the same trend of all pitchers of his height (6’9″) or taller. That is, late maturation. [St. Pete Times]
Future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson did not make it to the big leagues until he was 25. The same is true for San Diego All-Star Chris Young. Niemann? He turns 25 in six days.
Admittedly, the sampling is small. Only eight pitchers as tall as the 6-9 Niemann have ever reached the majors. But among those eight, only one had more than a handful of appearances before age 25. And that one is Andrew Sisco, who turned 25 last month and has a 3-9 career record with a 5.18 ERA.
- Mitch Talbot feels that his emotions may be holding him back. Rays bullpen catcher Bobby Ramos a former major leaguer, has taken John Jaso under his wing. [Tampa Bay Rays]
- How young are the Rays? 18 of the Rays 40-man roster spent time in Durham in 2007. [Our Sports Central]
- The St. Pete City Council opened the floor to hear opinions from both sides on the debate for a new stadium for the Rays. Our favorite quote is from Caesar Civitella who waited over 5 hours to be heard. “When the Rays decided to move (their spring training) to Port Charlotte, they turned their back on the city of St. Petersburg,”… Huh, wha?!?! He waited over 5 hours to say that? Apparently 78 home games is not enough. Wow. At least nobody was killed. [Bradenton Herald]
- DRays Bay interviews Stuart Sternberg. [DRays Bay]
- The Tampa Bay Rays have increased the number of promotional giveaways and special theme nights for third consecutive year. In 2008, over half of the home dates (42) will feature some sort of promotion. [American Patriots]
- In 2007, the Rays lost 568 player-days and $1.9 million in salary to player injuries. Will Carroll also predicts some of the Rays’ quotes from the upcoming FanFest. [Baseball Prospectus]
- This is a little stale as the ads have been running for a while now, but the the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled their marketing slogan for 2008. “We are one team” [St. Pete Times]
- This headline made us do a double-take. Link may be NSFW for some, I don’t know. [Queer in the Cincy]