Tampa Bay Rays (28 days until Opening Day)

Yesterday: Tampa Bay Rays 7, Pirates 5. The Rays are now 3-0 after starting the 2007 spring schedule 1-14.


  • Jeff Niemann did not allow a run yesterday in his first spring appearance, but it took him 33 pitches to get through the first inning, which meant he could not go out for the second inning. [MiLB]
  • Joe Maddon reemphasized that as soon as Jeff Niemann can start consistently pounding the strike zone, he will be in the majors. [Bradenton Herald]

“If we can get this guy throwing the ball consistently in the strike zone, he’s going to come up very quickly,” Maddon said, “regardless of experience.”

  • Wade Davis’ first spring appearance was a “learning experience” after he allowed 4 runs in 1+ innings, failing to record an out in his second inning of work. Joe Maddon is not worried. [The Ledger]

“He came out of his delivery in his second inning,” Maddon said. “He just wasn’t as in sync. The first inning, everything was together. It’s just one of those first-time-around things…He’s fine,” Maddon added. “He’s got great stuff, and it’s a learning experience.”

  • According to Marc Lancaster, Scott Kazmir can begin playing catch in the next 2-3 days…David Price threw in the bullpen and could get into a game later this week…Brian Anderson threw a 45-pitch bullpen session and could get into a game later this week…Rocco Baldelli will not play again until Tuesday when he will DH and then play in the field later this week. [Rays Report]
  • Troy Percival is expected to see his first action on Wednesday. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Dan Wheeler wonders allowed what it would be like to walk around the Tampa-St. Pete area wearing a World Series ring. Joe Maddon thinks he can get the best out of Wheeler by not working him more than two days in a row. [Tampa Tribune]

“I really want to avoid trying to abuse this guy,” Maddon said. “I think if we get him back on pace, throwing the appropriate number of pitches and innings, I think we’re going to see a very successful year out of him. He’s in great shape, he had a great offseason, he’s highly motivated – I see him having a really good year, actually.”

  • Bill Chastain interviews Joe Maddon. Most of the questions and answers are topics that Maddon has covered earlier this spring. [Tampa Bay Rays]
  • The Bradenton Herald profiles Carlos Pena…the Rays’ DH? [Bradenton Herald]
  • MiLB profiles the Rays’ farm system, including their list of “Ten prospects to watch out for in 2008”, four players that are “Under the Radar” and a list of predictions for 2008 players of the year in the organization. [MiLB]

Organizational Player of the Year: Desmond Jennings
As long as he’s healthy, Jennings will get a full season in the Minors and a chance to show what he can do with his prodigious across-the-board tools.

Organizational Pitcher of the Year: David Price
Though he could land in the big leagues as early as midseason, at this point the Rays are being cautious with the polished product’s pro debut and won’t rush him. In fact, Price should see enough time to show why he was the undisputed top pick.

  • Armchair GM previews the AL and project the Rays to finish 4th in the East at 82-80, with the 5th best offense and the 10th ranked pitching staff. [ArmchairGM]
  • Rays Anatomy interviews John Manuel of Baseball America. They touch on a number of solid topics like Evan Longoria’s status, the 2008 Draft and the 2009 rotation. [Rays Anatomy]
  • Freeze Fire provides the latest 2008 Rays preview and bring up a good point about the Rays spring training move to Charlotte County: At less than 30 miles from Ft. Myers, spring games versus the Red Sox will be filled with pink hats of Red Sox Nation. It is hard to imagine that the Rays will make much of a dent in what is Red Sox country right now. [Freeze Fire]


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