Tampa Bay Rays (25 days until Opening Day)

Yesterday: Houston 8, Tampa Bay Rays 4. Jason Hammel started. He worked three innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits, but did not walk a batter. Reid Brignac made his first spring appearance going 0-2. Scott Dohmann’s shot at a bullpen spot took a hit after allowing 4 runs in 1 inning on 4 hits and a walk. Ben Zobrist started at shot and moved to first base later in the game. He was 2-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Willy Aybar started at third base, with Evan Longoria and Eric Hinske pinch-hitting.


  • In an unusual move for a spring training game, Carl Crawford plowed through the Astros catcher yesterday rather than slide into home where BJ Upton’s bat was still laying. The move was well received in the dugout and the team’s response goes a long ways towards showing that their is a different attitude in the Rays’ dugout these days. Joe Maddon said “It was nice to see Carl come at him hard…I liked it a lot. … It was a good, hard play.” BJ Upton added “We’re just trying to set the tone early…We’re trying to do some things different this year, and I think we’re just kind of letting guys know that we’re serious about the season.” [Tampa Tribune]
  • Yesterday we mentioned that Ben Zobrist was being groomed to be the Rays’ Swiss Army Knife (AKA super-utility player). Yesterday, Zobrist received playing time at first base. He has already played every infield position this spring and will see time in the outfield today. All of the extra work in the field has not hurt his bat so far. In 5 games, Zobrist is 6-14 (.429) with 3 walks (.529 OBP). [St. Pete Times]

As strictly a shortstop, Zobrist, wouldn’t make the team with Jason Bartlett aboard. But with the versatility of playing seven positions (and being a switch-hitter), Zobrist appears the odds-on favorite for a spot…”Zoey’s looked good,” Maddon said. “He’s working his butt off. Zoey wants to be on this team, and I’ve really been paying attention to that. He’s going about it right. He’s done a nice job.”

  • Scott Kazmir has begun throwing and Joe Maddon said he does not know when Rocco Baldelli will make an appearance in the outfield. [Rays Report]
  • Troy Percival will make his spring debut today. Apparently his role as team leader also includes team “policeman”. [Tampa Bay Rays]

“Troy, he’s going to get on guys,” said Brian Anderson, who refers to Percival as the club policeman. “A lot of these guys haven’t pitched through the grind of a [Major League] season.”

  • Brian Anderson is not nervous about making his second comeback from Tommy John surgery even though he has not pitched in the majors since 2005. Anderson says if he is not in the majors by July he will retire. But his comeback has progressed faster than anybody thought and Joe Maddon would not rule out Anderson making the roster out of spring training as a reliever or in the rotation…Huh, wha? That seems like a bit of a stretch. [Bradenton Herald]
  • Joe Maddon discusses Dioner Navarro’s base running skills…Seriously…Isn’t base”running” a bit of a misnomer with Navi? Shouldn’t it be “Base-Rumbling”? [Tampa Bay Rays]

“He’s a good baserunner, I’m telling you,” said Maddon. “He’s aggressive and he’s not afraid to take the chance.”

  • The Bradenton Herald profiles Edwin Jackson. A bowler, Jackson bowls left-handed to save his pitching arm. [Bradenton Herald]
  • Rays Anatomy projects the Rays 25-man roster. Only differences from ours is they have Willy Aybar at third and Eric Hinske on the bench (no sign of Joel Guzman). In the ‘pen they give the last spot to Grant Balfour. [Rays Anatomy]
  • Troy Tulowitzki, last years runner-up for NL Rookie-of-the-Year is a former teammate of Evan Longoria at Long Beach State. Tulowitzki was so impressed with Longoria, that he is now a big fan, and speculates on how his fellow Dirtbag will adjust to the big leagues. [Denver Post]

“He has a amazing baseball knowledge and maturity, even at a young age,’’ Tulowitzki said today. “He won’t get caught up in the hype.’’ Tulowitzki and Longoria, a third baseman, were teammates for one season at Long Beach State. The Rockies nearly selected Longoria two years ago, but decided the night before the draft to take pitcher Greg Reynolds. Longoria is known for his offensive prowess, impressing scouts with his ability to turn on an inside pitch. “He has some of the quickest hands I’ve ever seen. I have no doubt that he will hit (in the big leagues),’’ Tulowitzki said.

  • FoxSports.com has their Rays preview up. [Fox Sports]
  • Bugs & Cranks continues their team previews by comparing every team to the Devil Rays in their “Your Team Ain’t $#!t Compared To The Devil Rays” series. They are up to #10 (Nationals; starting with the worst teams) and so far the arguments are believable. How much longer can they keep it up? [Bugs & Cranks]
  • Chuck LaMar will attend his first Rays game since being fired by the Rays in 2005, as a scout for the Phillies. LaMar feels that people will start to notice in the next year or two the kind of players that he put together for the Rays and reminisces about giving his “heart and soul” to the Rays for ten years. [Philadelphia Daily News]
  • Fantasy Scope Baseball takes a look at recent teams that have shown a significant increase in win-totals from one season to the next and doubts that the Rays can join that group. [Fantasy Scope Baseball]


  1. Sean G says:

    this might be nit-picking, but since when is a player that plays more than a couple of positions a "super-utility" player?

    Guys used to do this all the time. I know Chone Figgins is a rarity these days, but it was not that long ago that we had guys like Jose Oquendo that did this. Hell, Oquendo played all 9 positions in one game and one year he played at least 15 games at every infield position and the outfield and i dont recall anybody ever referring to him as a "super"-anything.

    I mean are the rays going to have another utility guy that plays fewer positions than Zobrist? If that was the case, i guess i MIGHT understand the title, but to me isnt he just a utility-player? I mean if Zobrist is a "super-utility" what is just a "utility"? seems redundant and unnecessary

  2. Scot Gould says:

    And here is another point - why do we celebrate a player who is assured of a position during the entire season, regardless how he hits, and yet tries to show how “tough” he is by making a pointless run at a catcher - increasing his chances of injury in a worthless game? I bet management went ballistic watching one of their major investments put himself in a position of jeopardizing his season (career) over a high school scrimmage.

    Go Rays – but let us be smart about it.


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