Tampa Bay Rays (14 days until Opening Day)

Yesterday: Tampa Bay Rays 7, Tigers 2.

The Good: James Shields was..well…he was James Shields. 2 hits, no runs in 4.2 innings. Andy Sonnanstine continues to lay claim to one of the final two spots in the rotation striking out 5 in 3 innings allowing 4 hits, no walks and 1 run.

The Bad
: Actually James Shields was a little off allowing an uncharacteristic 3 walks while striking out 4. He also hit a batter. The only error was committed by Ronnie Merrill who is not even a member of the Rays organization.

The Telling: Elliot Johnson once again saw action in center field trying to earn a spot as Joe Maddon’s utility player and backup center fielder. While in the field he made a highlight reel diving catch that certainly earned him some bonus points and some ribbing from teammates about not being able to stay on his feet.


  • In what must be encouraging news for the Rays front office, yesterday’s game drew 6,755 fans. That is a franchise record for a spring training game. It is only spring training. And yes, it is still only 6,755. But positive trends are still positive trends. We would have expected a record on the first day of spring training, not the middle of spring.[Tampa Tribune]
  • With Scott Kazmir now likely to miss opening day, the team appears to be leaning towards placing Kid K on the disabled list. Joe Maddon said the team was being overly cautious and made it clear that there is nothing wrong with Kazmir, rather he just wants the young ace to build strength back in his arm. Kazmir agreed stating he would rather miss two starts at the beginning of the season rather than two months later. [The Heater]
  • James Shields will now get the opening day nod with announcement likely to be made on Tuesday. [Tampa Bay Rays]
  • X-Rays on Shawn Riggans hand cam back negative and he should be back in the lineup in a few days. Andy Cannizaro is still a few days away from returning. The more time he misses, the better chance there is for Elliot Johnson to be on the opening day roster. [Rays Report]
  • Bugs & Cranks is still cranking out their team previews in which each team is compared to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, in their “”Your Team Ain’t $#!T Compared To The Devil Rays” series (The are up to #22, The Mets). We had wondered aloud previously how long it would take before the comparisons were no longer believable (David Chalk started with the worst teams and will finish with the best). What really surprises us is that it took so long for another site to get offended. It comes from the site All Dodgers and they don’t seem to happy. It is humorous to read how serious they think this is. And does anybody have any idea why they keep using the word “remotely” (or some variation) and highlight the word? [All Dodgers]
  • Martin Fennelly says the Rays have never had a player like Troy Percival. [Tampa Tribune]

This clubhouse brims with young talent. That doesn’t make it a team. That’s where a chemistry professor like Percival comes in. He knows situations, he knows hitters, he knows teaching.

An All-Star? (“Hands down if he didn’t get hurt last year,” pitcher Scott Kazmir said.)…A Gold Glove winner? (“There’s capabilities,” manager Joe Maddon said…A 30-30 man? (“Hell yes,” leftfielder Carl Crawford said.)…”He’s definitely all the above,” pitcher James Shields said. “He can do everything. He hits for power, he moves guys over, he steals bags, he does it all. And he gets great jumps in the outfield. He’s just an athlete. I definitely think he’s going to be one of the best in the game.”

  • The Redbird Blog thinks the Cardinals and Rays match-up well as potential trading partners as the Cradinals have a surplus of outfielders and need starting pitching. [The Redbird Blog]
  • We actually found a blog that still thinks it is a good idea to contract the Rays. Seriously. A) Why would baseball contract any teams when they set revenue records last year? B) Why would you contract the Rays, a team that is the media darlings of 2008 and a team most think will breakthrough in 2008? On the other hand, if the internet is really headed for a slow down, then there might be a good reason to contract some blogs. This one is named Vitamin Z. The name alone should be enough reason to contract the blog. Just goes to show you that we don’t discriminate. We will even include links to ignorant bloggers. [Vitamin Z]


  1. Andrew says:

    Was at the game yesterday and never have seen Al Lang so full, which was nice...until looking around and realizing that the Tigers, fresh off another winter of cherry picking some high priced talent, have attracted themselves a legion of vociferous fans that travel well. With the high population of former Michiganites here in the bay area, we may have YankSox type of "premium" team on the horizon.

    I'd venture to guess that it was a 60-40 showing attendance wise, with Tigers fans taking the majority. That said - five years ago, the Tigers were the league laughingstock and now look. Wouldn't shock me at all if Silverman, Friedman & Co. are looking at them and saying "That's our blueprint."

  2. Robert Rittner says:

    I had a similar experience at a Rays/Tigers game at the Trop last year. The place was not as packed as it is for NY and Boston, but it was better attended than usual, and I agree with your estimate of the ratio of Detroit to TB fans. I have high hopes this year will change that.

    There was only one charged error in the game, but on a low throw by Longoria, the batter was called safe and awarded a hit. I don't get that since the ball was there in plenty of time, so either Pena bobbled it or the throw was bad, either way an error. The runner could not have beaten it out if the ball was fielded cleanly; it wasn't a nubber or anything like that. Just a solid two hopper that Longoria fielded waist high and threw low to first.

  3. Jake says:

    Merrill actually got signed by the Rays organization to a minor league contract in January. More of a roster-filler move for AA/AAA.

  4. The Professor says:

    thanks. I had forgotten that. we even have him on Durham's roster on the CorkBoard and somehow missed it.


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