Tampa Bay Devil Dogs (15 days until opening day)
DRG here again to get you through the weekend…
Yesterday: Tampa Bay Rays 11, Braves 10.
- The Good: Jason Hammel finally had a good start, throwing 5 scoreless. Is it enough to get his name back in the mix? Elliot Johnson continues his hot spring going 3-5 with 3 RBI. Evan Longoria started at third going 1-3 with 2 walks.
- The Bad: Scott Dohmann struggled giving up 4 hits and 3 runs in 2 innings in his bid for the last bullpen spot. Reid Brignac committed his second error of the spring.
- The Telling: Elliot Johnson saw playing time in center field indicating that Joe Maddon may be considering Johnson for the super-utility role in the absence of Ben Zobrist.
- The Good:Jeff Niemann allowed only 1 run on 6 hits in 4 innings to a stacked Yankees lineup. He struck out 1 and did not walk a batter, getting out of a bases-loaded one-out jam with a ground ball double play. Gary Glover and Dan Wheeler combined for 1 unearned run in 3 innings. Eric Hinske played right field and went 2-4. He is now hitting .480 in the spring. Akinori Iwamura turned two double plays.
- The Bad: Willy Aybar started at third and committed his second error of the spring. Josh Paul was 0-1 on base stealers.
- The Telling: Josh Paul started at catcher with Mike DiFelice coming on late. With Shawn Riggans being hit by a pitch in the hand, if he misses any significant time, this may indicate that Paul has the edge to make the team.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- The New York Times has their AL East preview up and I absolutely LOVE this quote…”Teams that don’t take Tampa Bay seriously will get their butts kicked.” That was Bill Bavasi, the Mariners GM. [New York Times]
- Yesterday may have been Jeff Niemann’s best start yet and with Edwin Jackson struggling, Niemann has to start getting some consideration for the 5th spot. The biggest stat: Of 64 pitches, 48 were for strikes. [Tampa Bay Rays]
“I like what he did today because we’ve been talking specifically about keeping the ball down,” Maddon said. “Even the one A-Rod hit over the center fielder’s head, that ball was down low.”
- Joe Maddon hinted what we were all starting to wonder, that JP Howell may not really be in consideration for the rotation but has a very real shot at being the long-man in the bullpen. [Herald-Tribune]
“He’s come out this spring. He’s pitched extremely well,” Maddon said. “There’s a confidence he has about this role. When you get him one time through the batting order, he can be very effective.”
- Deep breath. Deep breath…Scott Kazmir won’t pitch today after all. Joe Maddon is holding Kaz back so that he can reestablish his arm strength. I have to assume that there is no way Kazmir is pitching opening day now. [The Heater]
- Kurt Birkins and Shawn Riggans were both removed from yesterday’s games due to injuries. It is unclear how much time either will miss. [The Heater]
- The Rays are more likely to make a trade for a 4th outfielder, rather than sign a free agent such as Kenny Lofton. With Jeff Niemann and Andy Sonnanstine pitching well and Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel out of options, one of the latter two is likely to be included in any deal. [Tampa Tribune]
- Here is an AL East preview in which the Rays are compared to the movie “Juno”. [The Grand National Championships]
They seem revolutionary, but they’re really not. Although dropping the Devil is like dropping the fact that the screenwriter is a stripper, being a “surprising indie coming of age tale” is a lot like being “the new bandwagon” in baseball.
- Rays of Light tackles the Evan Longoria debate. [Rays of Light]