Tampa Bay Rays (7 days until Opening Day)

We have a busy, busy day planned here at RI, so be sure to check back early and often…

Yesterday: Tampa Bay Rays 10, Reds 9.

The Good: The two players that the Rays will rely on to be power sources in 2008, Jonny Gomes and Carlos Pena, each hit their third home run of the spring…Elliot Johnson continues to secure his spot as the opening day utility player, assuming Ben Zobrist is on the DL, with 2 more hits while playing center. He is now 19-41 (.463) on the spring with a 1.145 OPS…Aki Iwamura started 2 double plays with his new partner-in-crime, Jason Bartlett…Al Reyes struck out all three batters he faced.

The Bad: Matt Garza needed over 90 pitches to get through 5.1 innings walking 2 and hitting 2 more batters…Troy Percival gave up 7 runs in 1 inning of work on 6 hits and a walk.

The Telling: Andy Cannizaro who figures to be the only person that could beat out Elliot Johnson for utility player, saw time at both second and third.


  • It is never a good day when we read the sentence “David Price left a Minor League start Thursday after feeling some discomfort in his left elbow.Andrew Friedman says that it is not serious. We hope World B. Friedman will forgive us if we hold our breath until Price makes another appearance on a mound. [Tampa Bay Rays]
  • Tom Singer names the Rays as one of two team in the AL that are “worth watching for early signs of a miracle”. [MLB]

In already setting a club record for Grapefruit League wins, Tampa Bay also has lost only twice in 13 games against other AL clubs, is 6-1-1 vs. the AL East and is 5-1 against Detroit and Philadelphia…Yet it’s almost as if the Rays are being humored. That could be a mistake, even if the weight of the AL East does have to curb their optimism.

  • Bill Chastain notes that several roster decisions are still up in the air and the team met again last night to discuss some of those decisions. According to Chastain Ben Zobrist is likely to start the season on the DL, but will be available as early as April 5…Our best guess is that Elliot Johnson will now join Eric Hinske, Joel Guzman and Shawn Riggans on the bench. Not bad for a guy that had the 5th worst OPS in AAA last year. We are rooting hard for Johnson. [Tampa Bay Rays]
  • Joe Smith also looks at the remaining roster questions…On a side note, does anybody else remember a couple of weeks ago when Joe Maddon was talking about how nice it was that most of the roster was already in place. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Maddon all but confirms that JP Howell will be on the Rays opening day roster as a long reliever by saying that the last bullpen spot will go to either Scott Dohmann, who was better last year and Grant Balfour, who has had the better spring. Both players are out of options. One will make the team. The other must be traded or will need to clear waivers in order to be optioned to the minors. [Tampa Tribune]

“That is a tough one,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Both have really good arms, both are very competitive. They’re making it tough. This is going to be quite a discussion in regard to that spot, because I have a lot of respect for both of these young men – they’re both great workers, they’re great teammates. It’s tough.”

  • It sucks to be a hitter during an intrasquad game when the opposing pitcher is working on pitching inside. Yesterday, Chris Mason hit two batters in one game at minor league camp…Chuck Tiffany who missed all of 2007 also participated. [Riverwalk Talk]
  • Delmon Young has a new commercial promoting the 2008 Twins in which he seeks the advice of Twinkies legends. They tell him to “See the ball, hit the ball”. Might just be us, but isn’t Young’s problem that he swings at too many pitches? [Chinese Evil Dead]
  • New and Old Rays gear is being spotted with alarming regularity as far north as Tallahassee. [FSView]


  1. Robert Rittner says:

    I haven't checked any statistics, but does it seem as if the Rays' pitchers are hitting a lot of batters this spring?

    Well, I just checked and don't think the difference is particularly meaningful. Just comparing to the AL East, TB does have the most hit batters (by our pitchers). We have 13. Next most is Baltimore with 10 , Toronto with 9 and Boston and NY with 8 each.

  2. The Professor says:

    thanks for bringing that up. i thought the same thing when I first saw that Garza hit two batters.

    my best guess is just that Hickey and Maddon are really trying to emphasize pitching inside. If that is the case, the coaches may have told the pitchers to not be afraid to hit batters, that it will happen but in the long run the benefits outweigh the occasional hit batter.

  3. Robert Rittner says:

    Exactly what I was thinking. Maybe it is significant.


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