THE GOOD: New Bullpen. Joel Peralta and Juan Cruz combined this spring for 20 innings, giving up just a single run. They struck out 21 and walked 11 (8 by Cruz)…Elliot Johnson. You’ve got to root for guys like Johnson who has spent 9 years in the minors. This spring he solidified his spot on the roster with 12 hits and 7 walks in just 45 plate appearances (.435 OBP), stole a team record 11 bases and played 7 different positions. He’ll never be Ben Zobrist. But he will be a nice player to have on the bench…Big Pop. This Rays team is not supposed to have a lot of power. But this spring, 6 different players hit at least 3 home runs including Dan Johnson and Kelly Shoppach, who combined for 8. If those two do anything worthwhile with the bat this season, it will be a bonus.
THE BAD: Adam Russell. Russell is out of options so his spot on the big league roster was never in doubt. But his spring performance leaves us worried. Despite a strong last outing, Russell finished the spring with 20 hits and 4 walks allowed in just 9 innings. At this point, we have to imagine that he is no more than just the designated “down 7-1” guy in the bullpen.
THE TELLING: The Rays finished the Grapefruit League 14-14-2…James Shields, Jake McGee and Adam Russell pitched in a simulated game…Casey Kotchman and Felipe Lopez will report to triple-A Durham…It is looking less likely that the Rays will trade for a reliever, meaning Jake McGee and Cesar Ramos will make the opening day roster.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Johnny Damon and his wife are working with “Uncork for a Cause” to support the families of the St. Pete police officers that have died in the line of duty this year. [Rays Report]
- Michael Kruse takes a look at what Evan Longoria’s stolen AK-47 does for his image. [TampaBay.com]
- Joe Maddon says Evan Longoria’s AK-47 was “his choice.” [The Heater]
- Joe Smith profiles Cesar Ramos, who was one of Evan Longoria’s roommates in college. [TampaBay.com]
- It is unclear how this will affect the Rays, but one projection sees a 3-7 percent increase in attendance for Major League Baseball this season. [The Biz of Baseball]
- Meanwhile, Tampa (not St. Pete) is the 14th “most depressed baseball city.” Which we guess makes them them the 16th least depressed city, but whose counting. (thanks David) [AVVO]
- The Rays traded for double-A prospect John Shelby, from the White Sox. [MLBTR]
- Desmond Jennings is anxious to get back to the big leagues. [Montgomery Advertiser]
- Watching Durham Bulls Baseball projects the Durham Bulls roster. Not a lot of power, but the team should be strong. [WDBB]
- It seems a little silly to ask Joe Maddon to pick wines like he is filling out a lineup card. You know it will just be different tomorrow. [TBO.com]