Tampa Bay Devil Dogs (44 days until Opening Day)
DRG here again to get you through the weekend…
Joe Maddon regularly refers to the “right field triangle” of Cliff Floyd, Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes. Maybe it should be the “right field square”.
Floyd has arrived at camp and says that he feels better physically than he has in years.
“In terms of health, in terms of my feet, in terms of my knees — everything — I feel great,” Floyd said.
He also speaks of his expectations for playing time.
“Whatever role I’m put into, I’m sure I can adapt to it, whether it’s going into the outfield and playing two, three days a week and DHing two,” Floyd said. “I know everybody has to play and to me, getting everybody involved keeps everyone fresh.
The coaching staff and trainers will also meet Monday to come up with a plan for how to use Baldelli n Spring Training with an eye towards gradually increasing his workload.
According to Maddon: “We’re going to take it very slowly.”
A “triangle”? Am I the only person that will not be surprised to see somebody else log significant playing time in right field this year? There is joust no way the Rays are getting a full season out of those three. At some point both Rocco and Floyd will be injured and AAAA-Justin Ruggiano will be manning right field.
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- The players opened camp with a new-found optimism that may have been spurred in part by Joe Maddon’s opening speech. Both Scott Kazmir and BJ Upton expressed that making the playoffs is not out of the realm of possibilities for this ballclub and Troy Percival said that the chance for success was a major reason he signed with the Rays and turned down the Yankees, comparing this situation to the one in Detroit a few years ago. [St. Pete Times]
“What’s possible? Play in October, that’s possible,” ace Scott Kazmir said. “That is possible. That’s what I got out of Joe Maddon talking to us, and talking to all of my teammates, it’s not something that’s impossible. We have what it takes to win here.”
- Dioner Navarro has been excused from camp to be with his ailing mother in Venezuela after she suffered a brain aneurysm. She is in stable condition but remains in the intensive care unit. [St. Pete Times]
- Andrew Friedman says that we have seen this team play well, but the players need to believe in themselves in order to play well consistently over long stretches. [St. Pete Times]
“One of the biggest challenges coming in two years ago was changing the mind-set of the organization, changing the mentality, and the most important part of that was getting the players to start believing, and I think we’ve taken quantum leaps in that regard,” Friedman said.
“But it’s carrying it over, it’s going out and executing and playing consistently over an extended period of time. We’ve seen flashes of it, but it’s playing to a consistently high level over a period of time. And that comes with believing, with changing that mind-set so that when you go out on the field each and every night that you expect to win. Starting to believe that and getting it to the point where 25 guys are playing together toward a common goal is something I hope to see really start to take form this year.”
- Rays Digest takes a look at David Price and has some quotes from his first day in Rays camp. [Rays Digest]
“I haven’t played baseball in seven months,” said David Price. “There is definitely excitement, nervousness, there’s everything. I am looking forward to having a good time. It was fun (the first workout) and relaxed. You get your work in and get out of here. You wake up early get out early and get in a day of baseball.”
- Grant Balfour could be an odd-man out in the fight for jobs in the bullpen, but he welcomes the challenge. [Rays Baseball]
- John Heyman of SI says the Rays had the 7th best off-season giving them a grade of B+. [SI]
They got rid of the Devil in their name, and also traded Elijah Dukes, which may be no coincidence. Dealing Delmon Young was a risk, but they’re making a statement about the type of roster they want. And they’re locking up their valuable youngsters, though attempts to extend Scott Kazmir have failed so far.
- Ken Rosenthal calls the “Rising Rays” one of the 10 things to watch in Spring Training. [Fox Sports]
One American League GM says he views the Rays as an 80-win team; not bad for a franchise that, in its first 10 seasons, topped out at 70…Third baseman Evan Longoria could be this year’s Ryan Braun, and the Rays’ rotation might rank among the league’s best by the end of the decade…Questions remain about whether Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler and Troy Percival will provide quality late-inning relief, but some of the team’s young rotation candidates could prove valuable in the bullpen. The pitching also will benefit from improved defense: With Jason Bartlett at shortstop, the Rays’ defense should be average or above-average at every position when Rocco Baldelli is in right field.
- Using a new defensive statistic called SAFE which calculates the numbers of runs a player prevents or allows, a group of statisticians ranked current and former players. Both Carl Crawford and Jason Bartlett ranked among the best at their respective positions, while Fred McGriff was considered the worst first baseman. We assume they were just looking at McGriff’s final season, it is unclear. [Associated Press]
- Outs Per Swing actually Live Blogged the Rays’ first practice. Would that be a ‘Plog’? [Outs Per Swing]
- Following a Plog is like watching paint dry, but the pictures are worth the effort, if just to get the first glance at the Boys in Blue. [Outs Per Swing]
- One website thinks people should start jumping on the Rays bandwagon. Unfortunately, I don’t think naming your son Aubrey will endear you to most Rays fans, as a one Mr. Huff is no longer in our good graces. [Bert Flex]