Tampa Bay Rays (27 days until Opening Day)
Yesterday: Tampa Bay Rays 10, Detroit 9.
The Rays are now 4-0 after starting the 2007 spring season 1-14. Willy Aybar started at third going 2-3 with 2 RBI, but committed his first error. That was the Rays’ first error in four games. Dioner Navarro made his first appearance behind the plate, going 1-3. Elliot Johnson walked once in 2 plate appearances and stole a base and has now been on base 4 times in 6 plate appearances. The Rays have been especially aggressive on the basepaths with 10 swipes in the first 4 games. Ben Zobrist was 0-1 with 2 walks. He leads the Rays with 4 hits and has been on base 6 times in 12 plate appearances. Jake McGee did not allow a run, but did walk three in 1 inning of work. Andy Sonnanstine pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. The Rays seem keenly aware that they will need a 5th outfielder at some point this season and are auditioning several for that role. The three players with the most playing time in the first four games have been minor league outfielders. John Rodriguez leads the team with 21 innings played so far, followed by Justin Ruggiano (19) and Fernando Perez (16).
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- If you haven’t had a chance to vote in this week’s “Rays Confidence Survey”, you can do so right HERE. [Rays Index]
- Matt Garza was disappointed in the way he pitched in his Rays debut as the Tigers kept fouling pitches off. Garza had to be pulled with two outs in the second after 48 pitches, due to a 50-pitch limit. [Tampa Tribune]
“I went at it full-force,” Garza said. “I was like – nope, it’s not a spring training game, it’s a game. There was somebody else in the box. That’s definitely how I looked at it as a competitor. I was out there trying to win and I was disappointed in the way I pitched.”
- Delmon Young will not make the trip to St. Pete today when the Rays take on the Twins. Clearly the Twins have decided to postpone the media circus that was surely to follow after Young’s recent war of words with Carl Crawford. [The Heater]
- Joe Maddon says there is no need worry that Troy Percival has not yet made a spring appearance, noting that this is “just how he’s done it in the past…With the Angels, many springs he made like seven appearances. That’s the way he is.” For the record, in his last three spring trainings, Percival has made 12 (2005 with DET), 11 (2004 with ANA) and 8 (2003 with ANA) appearances. [Tampa Bay Rays]
- Joe Henderson notes that moving Akinori Iwamura to second base has been part of the plan since the beginning and Aki has been more than willing to do whatever the team has asked. [Tampa Tribune]
- Mike Bauman notes that the addition of a third legitimate starter (Matt Garza) is the one big reason there is so much hope in the 2008 for the Rays. [MLB]
The Rays like Garza’s stuff and they like his makeup…”He’s high-energy, he very much gets into it, he likes to be out there, he likes to compete,” Maddon said. “I get all that from him. Just watching him work, the ball has great low carry to it. It’s a really good finish to the fastball. That’s unusual, and you have to throw pretty hard to get that kind of finish to the ball.”
- Apparently one third baseman in the system with a famous name wasn’t enough for Andrew Friedman. The Rays have signed undrafted free agent Burt Reynolds to a minor league deal. [Baseball America]
- Video of Scott Kazmir visiting 97X in studio for a quick interview. Kazmir reiterates his belief that the Rays can make the playoffs this year. [YouTube]