THE GOOD: Jeff Niemann. Another strong outing for Niemann, who struck out 5 in 3 innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits and a walk. He now has 7 Ks and 1 walk in 5 spring innings…Reid Brignac. Brignac entered the game 0-11, but hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in the third. Of course he followed that up with his best Sammy Sosa impersonation, 2 straight K’s…Jason Bartlett had 2 singles in third inning after collecting a double in his first at bat, finishing 3-3.
THE BAD: Derek Rodriguez. Rodriguez recorded the final 4 outs against the scrubs in a blowout and gave up a run on a single and 2 walks. Rodriguez, the Rule 5 pick, has now allowed 5 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits and 2 walks in 2 innings. He does not have a strike out…Gabe Kapler. Kapler was 0-3 yesterday and 0-12 overall, but he did collect a walk and threw out a runner trying to go from first to third on a single.
THE TELLING: Ben Zobrist making good on his status as super-duper utility guy, started at first base. Adam Kennedy is trying to show that he too can be super-duper by starting at third and Reid Brignac started at second displaying some of his own flexibility.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Tonight at 6pm et, the MLB Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days” will feature the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Joe Smith has a couple of injury updates…Matt Joyce had an MRI on his sore calf, and it revealed a strain. Joyce says that is puzzling as he has been treating the injury since January and it should be healed by now. Carlos Pena will debut on Friday and Troy Percival is on track to make his spring debut on March 12. [St. Pete Times]
- In the same piece, Joe Smith reports that Joe Maddon has been working with Jason Bartlett to cut back on the number of flyballs and Bartlett has responded to the tune of a .636 batting average early on. [St. Pete Times]
- Rays of Light argues for making a decision on pitching roles sooner, rather than later. [Rays of Light]
- We learned a little bit this off-season about what Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman think of Shawn Riggans. Despite a so-so rookie season as a backup catcher, the team did not bring in a veteran catcher to compete for Diesel’s job. Joe Smith tells us about Riggans’ preparation and Maddon notes that he wants Riggans “to really relax a bit and understand: He belongs here now.” [St. Pete Times]
- Coach Tom Foley made it clear that despite Reid Brignac’s recent appearances at second base, he is a shortstop. stating that “it doesn’t hurt for him to go over [to second base]. We’ve got a pretty good shortstop up here in the big leagues in Bartlett. But it’s just like any other infielder. Let him see if he can play the other positions. You never know what’s going to happen. It just increases his value as a player.“[MLB]