Tampa Bay Devil Dogs (29 days until opening day)

DRG here again to get you through the weekend

Tampa Bay Rays 5, Blue Jays 2.


  • Jeff Niemann will get his first spring start today. Eric Hinske will be in left field, with Ben Zobrist at second and Joel Guzman at first. [Rays Report]
  • Rocco Baldelli saw his first action since last May 15th. [USA Today]

Maddon said he is allowing Baldelli to figure out how to harness himself on the basepaths…”It’s his call. We’re just encouraging him not to try to beat anything out and just try to stay in a steady gait throughout … and not try to rush it,” the manager said…”But I’ll tell you one thing. Even when Rocco is running easily, it’s better than most. … He even runs well when he’s not running well.”…Baldelli said it’s not easy to resist the temptation to run full speed…”You can describe it any way you’d like,” he said of his approach. “I’m going to do what I have to do to be ready to go on opening day.”

  • Scott Kazmir is not ready to start throwing yet. David Price will throw a bullpen session today. [St. Pete Times]
  • Marc Lancaster worries that all the Rays’ hopes in 2008 may go down the drain if one of the key members (eg. Scott Kazmir) misses a significant amount of time. [Tampa Tribune]
  • In 2007, James Shields led all pitchers in retiring 74% of the first batters faced in an inning. [Tampa Bay Rays]

“No kidding,” said Shields, obviously pleased with the number. “That’s one of the most important parts of pitching. When you get the first out of the inning, that sets the tone. When a guy starts the inning with a walk or a base hit, there’s a little more pressure to not let him score. A lot of things can happen. They can bunt him over into scoring position, then, just like that, a base hit scores a run.

  • Roger Mooney talks to Scott Kazmir, Edwin Jackson and JP Howell about the importance of being able to throw strikes on a consistent basis. [Bradenton Herald]

“Some guys can keep the ball down, but they can’t elevate, and some guys can hit the inside corner but not the outside corner,” Howell said. “You have to be able to do all those in the big leagues. That’s what it comes down to, you find out a part of your game is missing once you get here. Part of your game is not all the way there, and hitters will exploit that.”

  • Carl Crawford changed his diet and says he now has more energy. He also worked to strengthen his legs, saying that the new turf at the Trop was hard on his legs last season. Add that to what his teammates say is already one of the most feared hitters in baseball and CC could be in for a huge year. [Tampa Bay Rays]

“He’s a great hitter. So to watch him every day was a thrill. He’s younger than me, like five years, but I will go up to him and ask him questions. He knows a lot about hitting. I see him in the cage and I want to talk to him. He’s earned respect from all his peers on this team and on other teams. He’s earned it.”

  • The St. Pete Times takes a look at all the national attention that the Rays have been receiving but Andrew Friedman says it is a little premature to start thinking of the Rays as a national team. [St. Pete Times]

“We’ll be happy with the Rays’ State of Florida,” Silverman said. “We want to be Florida’s team before we take it nationwide.”

  • The Bradenton Herald profiles James Shields. His nickname in the minor leagues? ‘Big Game’…I think I will stick with Prof’s ‘James The Greater’. [Bradenton Herald]
  • One website interviews Ben Zobrist. A warning: This interview is a bit more about religion than it is about baseball. [Challies]


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