THE GOOD: Robinson Chirinos. We have described Chirinos bat as being similar to John Jaso but with more pop. Well, that pop was on display yesterday when he hit a home run. Sure, it came in the 9th inning off of a guy that might not be big leaguer, but you have to like what you have seen early on from Chirinos…Alex Torres. The prospect was given the all-important role of first reliever (gets to face big league hitters) and responded with 2 scoreless innings allowing just 1 baserunner, a single…Pena Who? Casey Kotchman put his gold glove caliber on display with a couple of great defensive plays.
THE BAD: James Shields. Maybe his nickname should be “Big Blast.” Shields, who led the AL in home runs allowed last year (34), gave up another one in his first inning of the spring. Is he unlucky? Joe Maddon doesn’t think so, saying the home runs are “on him.” And it is something he needs to fix if he is going to be more productive this season…Bootcheck and Bayliss. Chris Bootcheck and Jonah Bayliss are both non-roster invitees trying to win spots in the bullpen. Their first outings did not go well. The two combined to give up 4 runs on 7 hits and a walk in just 2 innings.
THE TELLING: On travel day, Matt Joyce and Kelly Shoppach were the only players in the starting lineup that will likely be on the opening day roster, although Casey Kotchman and Felipe Lopez certainly have a shot…Felipe Lopez started at third base a position he started at 52 times last year…Manny Ramirez will start in left field today. The other starters will no doubt be on high alert.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Jeremy Hellickson threw a bullpen session yesterday, but is still at least 10 days from getting any game action. [TampaBay.com]
- Joe Maddon called Matt Joyce a “complete player right now.” And yet, in the spring opener, when JoeMa went with a regular season lineup against a right-handed pitcher, Joyce was not in the lineup. [TampaBay.com]
- Bill Madden, who likes to write things like “according to a person familiar with the Rays thinking” (whatever that means) is proposing radical realignment in Major League Baseball. Where would the Rays go? In the trashcan of course. [NY Daily News]
- Is Manny Ramirez the new Keyshawn Johnson? [RaysRev.com]
- Joel Sherman on Rafael Soriano: “[Soriano is] not fitting in. Haven’t seen him talk to another player. More than shy, seems distrustful.” [Joel Sherman]
- The Bucs organizational philosophies are starting to sound an awful lot like that of the Rays. [Joe Bucs Fan]