THE GOOD: Matt Garza. The Garza Complex rebounded from his dead arm issues to throw 6 strong innings, giving up 3 runs, striking out 5 and walking only 1…Troy Percival. Another day, another perfect inning from Percy…Carlos Pena. Pena hit his first home run of the spring and finished 2-3.
THE BAD: Ben Zobrist. Zorilla can occasionally be feast-or-famine. Yesterday it was all famine as he went 0-4 with 3 Ks.
THE TELLING: For the first time this spring, most of the regulars worked the entire game as Joe Maddon moves to get everybody into game shape…Akinori Iwamura continues to lead off since his return from Japan. When BJ Upton returns, we expect Aki to drop to the bottom of the order, but to start the season, he will lead off.
The GBT’s for the rest of the weekend games can be found below the Webtopia, after the jump.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- This should come as no surprise, but Joe Maddon reiterated that he will not skip the fifth starter early in the season. With the number of off-days in April, some managers choose to skip their fifth starter occasionally to keep the rest of the staff on normal rest, something Maddon has never done. In year’s past he has always made it clear that does not like skipping starters and prefers to give the rotation an extra day of rest. [MLB]
- John Romano takes a look at the four pitchers (Jeff Niemann, Jason Hammel, Jason Isringhausen, Lance Cormier) vying for the final two spots of the pitching staff. Romano feels it will be Niemann and Cormier that win the jobs, meaning Hammel has to be traded and Izzy either has to be patient in the minors or be released. [St. Pete Times]
- Jeff Niemann pitched well in a minor league game, throwing 6 shutout innings, striking out 6 and walking none. He only needed 68 pitches. [The Heater]
- Joe Maddon called the competition for the final spot “damn close.” Also, Matt Garza said his arm felt “live again” in his latest outing. [St. Pete Times]
- Jason Hammel says that the competition for the final rotation spot won’t strain the friendship between him and Jeff Niemann, noting that they “will always love each other.” [Montgomery Advertiser]
- Stuart Sternberg does not see the payroll remaining in the $60 million range next season stating that the team “borrowed from the next couple years,” to get it that high this season. He also notes that the Red Sox comeback in the ALCS, forcing games 6 and 7 at the Trop increased revenue significantly and that “there’s probably a middle reliever or two that wouldn’t be here, or we’d have a different bat.” [St. Pete Times]
- In another unsurprising move, the Rays have released Morgan Ensberg who now goes the way of Hee Seop Choi, and Roberto Alomar as big-named signees that never played a regular season game with the Rays. And let’s not forget Shinji Mori. The Rays gave that tool a lot of money. [MLB]
- In an effort to find more playing time for Willy Aybar, Joe Maddon had Pat Burrell take reps at first base and indicated he will play there during the season. Burrell played 58 games at first as a rookie in 2000, but hasn’t appeared there since. [The Heater]
- Joe Maddon spoke highly of Matt Joyce’s potential, saying he sees him as a middle-of-the-order hitter in the future, but that he would hit 6th or 7th now. Maddon said, “But, I mean, this guy has some kind of potential with the bat.” [Tampa Tribune]
- We now know that the opening day pitching matchup will be James Shields against Josh Beckett. [Providence Journal]
- Rocco Baldelli still hasn’t played back-to-back days but so far he has done everything that has been asked of him. [Boston Herald]
- Around the Majors takes a look back at the Delmon Young–Matt Garza/Jason Bartlett trade. [Around the Majors]
- #129 on the list of “The Top 177 Devil Rays Ever.”…For the first time, we don’t have a clue. [Bugs and Cranks]
- Jeff Ridgway, the left-handed pitcher the Rays traded for Willy Aybar, has been released by the Braves. [Biscuit Crumbs]
THE GOOD: Scott Kazmir. Kid K looked solid throwing 6 innings, striking out 5 while allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks…Jason Isringhausen. A perfect 7th inning for Izzy working his second straight game…Lance Cormier. Cormier, who is likely fighting for the final bullpen spot, struck out 2 in his 1 inning of work, allowing only a single…Adam Kennedy singled 3 times in 4 at bats, and Gabe Kapler drove in a pair with 2 singles.
THE BAD: Scott Kazmir’s bat. OK, not bad, he was 2-3 and drove in 3, but bad that we might only see him try that again once this season.
THE TELLING: Jason Isringhausen worked back-to-back games for the first time this spring…Matt Joyce started in center and batted third.
THE GOOD: Jason Hammel. Hammer made a strong case for the final spot in the rotation, rebounding from a couple of so-so outings to pitch 5 shutout innings. He struck out 4 and gave up only 2 hits and a walk…
THE BAD: Jason Isringhausen. Izzy has looked ok so far this spring. Not great, but not terrible, until Saturday. He was touched for 3 hits and a 1 and gave up 2 runs in 1 inning…Joe Nelson. We think Nelson has a spot in the bullpen, but he gave up a home run and threw a wild pitch adding to what has already been a bad spring…The Offense. The Rays managed only 5 hits (all singles), with Carl Crawford and Dioner Navarro providing a pair each.
THE TELLING: This was most likely the opening day lineup with Aki Iwamura leading off and Dioner Navarro, Ben Zobrist, Gabe Gross and Jason Bartlett hitting 6-9.
THE GOOD: Carl Crawford. CC hit his 2nd home run of the spring…Akinori Iwamura. Aki looked fresh on his RBI-triple.
THE BAD: James Shields. Poor Shields was the victim of having to throw enough pitches to start getting loose for the regular season. When it was done, he had allowed 11 runs on 12 hits and 3 walks in only 4.1 innings.
THE TELLING: After James Shields, Joe Maddon used three pitchers that will likely not play for the Rays this season.