Tagged: Spring Training

Rays vs. Pirates

After a rainy day, the sun returned to Florida in time for the Tampa Bay Rays vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game. I was born in Bradenton and my parents are from Pittsburgh so I have plenty of happy memories at McKechnie Field (had class today or else I would have gone to the game).

Rays Lineup

  • Ben Zobrist (2B)
  • Desmond Jennings (CF)
  • Matt Joyce (RF)
  • Yunel Escobar (SS)
  • Luke Scott (DH)
  • Kelly Johnson (LF)
  • Jose Molina (C)
  • James Loney (1B)
  • Sean Rodriguez (3B)
  • Jeff Niemann (P)

Pirates Lineup

  • Starling Marte (LF)
  • Neil Walker (2B)
  • Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  • Pedro Alvarez (3B)
  • Garrett Jones (1B)
  • Gaby Sanchez (DH)
  • Brad Hawpe (RF)
  • Michael McKenry (C)
  • Clint Narmes (SS)
  • A.J. Burnett (P)

The game started off when Ben Zobrist reached 1st base on an error, but was picked off by A.J. Burnett. Pitcher Jeff Niemann and three quick outs and was done for the day. With one out in the 2nd, Luke Scott singled, followed by singles from Kelly Johnson and Jose Molina. Scott scores due to a fielding error by right fielder Brad Hawpe. James Loney grounded out but Johnson managed to score (productive outs, much better than strike outs). Sean Rodriquez reaches on a throwing error, leading to Molina scoring. With Zobrist batting, Burnett throws a wild pitch, allowing Rodriquez to score. The Rays now lead 4-0 due to singles and errors committed by the Pirates. The Pirates committed a total of 4 errors as opposed to the Rays 1 error.

Kelly Johnson made his first start in left field since September 2005. Johnson was hit on the right arm by a pitch in the 3rd inning and was replaced by Leslie Anderson. Johnson appears to be ok; he is expected to be an utility player capable of playing infield and outfield.

Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson allowed a double and a single in the 2nd inning, but strikes out the next two batters to prevent any damage. Hellickson comes out to start the third but after 2 outs and 32 pitches, Joe Maddon comes to hill and replaces him with Juan Sandoval . Hellickson’s stats: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 K, 32 Pitches, and 22 Strikes. The game ended up being a blowout due to the Rays scoring 6 runs before the 6th inning. The final score was 8-2.

Side Notes:

  • Rays play the Detroit Tigers in Port Charlotte on Thursday, February 28. Roberto Hernandez will be the starting pitcher, followed by Matt Moore.
  • Coach Joe Maddon says health will play a factor in who will be in the fifth spot of the starting rotation. Maddon also says the first cuts will be soon.
  • Ben Zobrist will be leaving Sunday for the World Baseball Classic. He will be playing Thursday and Saturday with the Rays.
  • Evan Longoria will be playing every other day.
  • There is an animated movie about a boy with cancer and his love of the New York Yankees (sorry, almost threw up there). Steroid user Alex Rodriquez will be in the movie, along with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Yogi Bera (no word on Derek Jeter, but CC Sabathia is in it). Its great having children look up to a man who cheated on his wife with strippers and used steroids throughout his career to make money. Seriously, putting Gehrig and A-Roid in the same sentence is insulting let alone a movie about the famous Yankees.

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Rays welcome Astros to the American League

Waterspout photo in Downtown Tampa taken by Robert Siegel

Today the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros in Port Charlotte.   After being one of the worst teams in the National League for years, the  Astros hope a move to the American League will turn things around. Good  thing the game was not being played in Tampa because Tampa spent the morning in a Tornado Warning. Today was the Spring Training debut of third baseman Evan Longoria and pitcher David Price.

Rays Lineup

  • Ben Zobrist (SS)
  • Ryan Roberts (2B)
  • Evan Longoria (3B)
  • Leslie Anderson (LF)
  • Shelley Duncan (1B)
  • Wil Myers (RF)
  • Jack Cust (DH)
  • Sam Fuld (CF)
  • Jose Lobaton (C)
  • David Price (P)

Astros Lineup

  • Marwin Gonzales (SS)
  • Brandon Barnes (LF)
  • Justin Maxwell (CF)
  • Chris Carter (1B)
  • Nate Freiman (DH)
  • Matt Dominguez (3B)
  • Jimmy Paredes (RF)
  • Jason Jaramillo (C)
  • Jake Elmore (2B)
  • Jordan Lyles (P)

David Price had a 19-pitch inning, 10 of which were strikes. When Price reached for a ground ball with his bare hand, the ball hit his wrist but luckily he was fine. At the bottom of the 1st, Shelley Duncan hit a single, bringing Ryan Roberts home while Evan Longoria was called out at home. Longoria, who singled at his first at-bat of spring training, was not running at full speed and was trying to score from second base. After missing at least half of the 2012 season due to his hamstring, Rays fans are hoping the hamstring will not be a problem this year.

At the bottom of the 2nd, the Rays scored five runs, making the game 6-0. One of baseball’s top prospects, Wil Myers, singled to start the inning. Though a few singles and a sac-fly scored a few runs, it was the triple by Leslie Anderson that scored two runs. At the moment, Anderson is the top RBI leader in the Grapefruit League (with 7, ahead of Miguel Cabrera’s 4)  and is currently batting a .556. Anderson has had a hit in every Spring Training game he has played in so far.

In the 4th, Ryan Roberts hit a homerun to make the game 7-0. The Astros manage to put 2 runs up on the scoreboard in the 6th inning, but the game is called right after the inning ends due to the heavy rain. The other Rays pitchers invovled in the game were: Fernando Rodney, Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, Matt Buschmann, and Alex Colome.

Side Notes:

  • Jeff Niemann will now be starting Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates instead of Jeremy Hellickson.  Hellickson will still be pitching. 
  • Alex Rodriquez’s Yankees 2009 World Series Ring is being cold by his cousin. Must be to pay off a certain doctor…
  • Manny Ramirez will play for a team in Taiwan if no Major League Baseball team offers him a job this year.
  • Johnny Damon doesn’t understand why the Rays re-signed Luke Scott instead of him.

Rays beat the Red Sox, Again

The Rays have played four games (including a split squad on opening day) and already they have beaten their arch nemesis, the Boston Red Sox, twice. Unlike previous spring training games so far, the Rays lineup is similar to an actual lineup during baseball season, one in which Evan Longoria is hurt…

Rays Lineup

  • Ben Zobrist (RF)
  • Desmond Jennings (CF)
  • Matt Joyce (Left Field)
  • Yunel Escobar (SS)
  • Luke Scott (DH)
  • Kelly Johnson (2B)
  • Jose Molina (C)
  • James Loney (1B)
  • Ryan Roberts (3B)
  • Alex Cobb (P)

Red Sox Lineup

  • Jason Ellsbury (CF)
  • Dustin Pedroia (2B)
  • Shane Victorino (RF)
  • Jonny Gomes (LF)
  • Stephen Drew (SS)
  • Ryan Sweeney (DH)
  • Drew Sutton (3B)
  • Mike Carp (1B)
  • David Ross (C)
  • Alfredo Aceves (P)
Alex Cobb

Alex Cobb (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Today marked Alex Cobb’s spring training starter debut. Cobb was told last week that he is starting pitcher number four, which means he won’t be competing with four other pitchers for the limited starting positions. Cobb allowed four hits and two runs. “I was trying to throw a little too hard, keeping the ball up, rushing a little bit. When I did control myself, I had good results. Obviously the home run isn’t very good, and the RBI double isn’t very good. But I got a lot of ground balls, which is what I’m looking for, and it shows me I’m getting the angle I’m looking for” said Cobb. Another pitcher contending for a spot on the roster was Jamey Wright. The 38-year-old is looking for a spot in the Rays bullpen.

The Red Sox quickly took a lead in the 1st inning when Dustin Pedroia hit a homerun. The Rays answered back after Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce drew walks, followed by newcomer Yunel Escobar hitting a double to score two runs. The Red Sox tied the game up in the 2nd due to Mike Carp hitting a double, bringing Ryan Sweeney home. The Rays did most of their damage in the 4th thanks to Ryan Roberts hitting a double, driving Jose Molina and James Loney home.  Ben Zobrist hit a single, causing Roberts to score and making the score 5-2. In the 7th, the Rays score their last run of the game after Cole Figueroa scores on Jose Lobaton’s groundout. The Red Sox manage a run in the 8th, but lose 6-3.

Side Notes:

  • Red Sox had a split squad today; the other half of the team beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-2.
  • David Price makes his pitching debut Tuesday February 26 against the Houston Astros.
  • Evan Longoria will be making his debut  Tuesday February 26 against the Houston Astros.
  • In five years since becoming the Rays in 2008, Tampa Bay owns the third-best record in the Major Leagues behind the Yankees and Phillies. Also during this span, the Rays have won five major Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards, more than any other team. David Price (2012 AL Cy Young Award), Joe Maddon (’08, ’11 AL Manager of the Year Awards), Evan Longoria (’08 AL Rookie of the Year Award) and Jeremy Hellickson (’11 AL Rookie of the Year Award).

Spring Training Game 2: Rays v. Twins

The Tampa Bay Rays headed to Fort Myers to play the Minnesota Twins. Since most of the regular Rays were not in the line-up today, the focus would be on the pitchers competing for a bullpen spot, Sam Fuld’s defense in the outfield, Chris Gimenez behind homeplate, and if Stephen Vogt can hit a ball. Ben Zobrist was scratched from the game because coach Joe Maddon is concern about not over-working him due to the World Baseball Classic.

Rays Line Up:

  • Sam Fuld (CF)
  • Sean Rodriquez (2B)
  • Ben Zobrist Stephen Vogt (DH)
  • Shelley Duncan (1B)
  • Chris Gimenez (C)
  • Rich Thompson (RF)
  • Jason Bourgeois (LF)
  • Mike Fontenot (3B)
  • Tim Beckham (SS)
  • Chris Archer (P)

Twins Line Up:

  • Aaron Hicks (CF)
  • Jamey Carrol (2B)
  • Joe Mauer (C)
  • Josh Willingham (LF)
  • Justin Morneau (1B)
  • Chris Parmelee (RF)
  • Jeff Clement (DH)
  • Ray Olmedo (3B)
  • Pedro Florimon (SS)
  • Liam Hendricks (P)
Chris Archer

Chris Archer (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

The Rays got the first hit of the game in the 1st inning by Stephen Vogt…the guy who still does not have a Major League hit. Hopefully his double is a sign of good things to come. Rays pitcher Chris Archer retired three batters while walking one; he was working on his change-up and was falling behind the batter. The Rays put up the first run in the 2nd inning. With two outs, Jason Bourgeois walked, stole second base, and scored on Mike Fontenot’s double. The next Rays pitcher was Jake Odorizzi, a pitching prospect traded along with Wil Myers from Kansas City Royals. He retired three batters while walking one.

The Twins tied the game in the bottom of the 3rd when Juan Sandoval pitched. Sandoval lost sight in his right eye in shooting incident in Dominican Republic. He was the innocent bystander of a fight between a restaurant customer and a security guard. After bouncing around the Major Leagues and the Mexican League, he met Joel Peralta during Dominican Winter League. Peralta called Andrew Friedman and now Sandoval has a chance at the majors again. Though Sandoval allowed a run (a double that was almost foul) he was able to regain his composure and get the next two batters out.

The Twins took the lead in the 5th inning while Frank De Los Santos takes the mound. The leadoff man’s walk turns into a run after a ground out and a single. Rays answered back in the 6th inning due to Chris Gimenez’s single, Myers’ double, Jason Bourgeosis’ single, and Mike Fontenot’s single. Rays now lead 4-2.

The Rays blew the game open in the 9th when Twins pitcher Anthony Slama walks the leadoff batter, Kevin Kiermair. The next batter Shawn O-Malley reaches on a fielding error then steals; Robinson Chirinos walks and then Leslie Anderson singles, scoring two runs. Anderson was the hero in Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, hitting a 2-run homerun to win the game for the Rays. The Rays entered the bottom of the 9th leading 7-2. The Twins came back and scored 5 runs due to a walk, single, and a 3-run homerun off of Pitcher Jim Patterson, plus several more singles. In the 10th, O-Malley singled, stole second, and scores on Anderson’s single. Mark Thomas hits a homerun, making it 10-7. The Rays win 10-7.

On a side note…

  • Evan Longoria will not be playing on Monday against the Boston Red Sox. Longoria missed three days of practice due to the birth of his daughter. He is scheduled to start on Tuesday, but that could also be postponed.
  • Former Rays Pitcher Scott Kazmir goes two scoreless Indians for the Cleveland Indians.
  • Yankees Outfielder Curtis Granderson is out for 10 weeks due to a fractured right forearm. He was hit by a pitch by Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ at his first at-bat on Sunday afternoon. Yankees don’t have many outfielders so this could be a big factor into creating the roster at the end of Spring Training. Also, Granderson was supposed to play his first game in left field with Brett Gardner moving over to center field. Now Granderson will not be able to practice for a month in left field.
  • Tampa ends boil-water alert Sunday morning. No longer will locals have to brush their teeth with bottled water.

Spring Training Game 1: Rays v. Red Sox

While half of the team was in Port Charlotte playing against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the other half was battling the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers. The lineup:

  • Ben Zobrist (RF)
  • Desmond Jennings (CF)
  • Matt Joyce (LF)
  • Jack Cust (DH)
  • Ryan Roberts (2B)
  • Sean Rodriquez (3B)
  • Shelley Duncan (1B)
  • Jose Lobaton (C)
  • Hak-Ju Lee (SS)
  • Alex Colome (P)

Though it is only Spring Training, the Red Sox are the Ray’s #1 Rival so it is always a good game between the two, especially when the Rays win. The Rays scored the first run against John Lackey (who I am told did not look good). Ben Zobrist walked, Desmond Jennings singles, Matt Joyce was hit by pitch, and Ryan Roberts hit a sac-fly to take the lead. In the 3rd, Jennings doubled, stole third base, and scored due to a throwing error by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The Rays Pitchers were Alex Colome  (1 IP), Brandon Gomes (1 IP), Felipe Rivero (1 IP), Josh Lueke (2 IP), Marquis Fleming (2 IP), and Matt Buschmann (2 IP). Fleming gave up a homerun, leading to the Red Sox tying the game. Fleming also hit Daniel Nava – two hit batters in a game between the Rays and the Red Sox is always good entertainment. With Shawn O’Malley on 2nd, Leslie Anderson homers to bring the game to 4-2. Buschmann would give up a run in the 9th, but holds onto the win to earn a save. Rays beat Red Sox 4-3.

Desmond Jennings was the most impressive player of the day, scoring a run all by himself. Also happy to see a Red Sox player get hit after Joyce was hit by a ball. The hero of the game, Leslie Anderson, is a left-handed first baseman/outfielder from Cuba.

Spring Training Game 1: Rays v. Pirates

The Tampa Bay Rays were split today; one half of the team played the Pittsburgh Pirates while the other half played the Boston Red Sox. The lineup against the Pirates was:

  • Sam Fuld (CF)
  • Yunel Escobar (SS)
  • Kelly Johnson (2B)
  • Jose Molina (C)
  • Luke Scott (DH)
  • James Loney (1B)
  • Wil Myers (RF)
  • Chris Gimenez (3B)
  • Rich Thompson (LF)
  • Roberto Hernandez (P)

What many of Rays fans were looking forward to was the debut of one of baseball’s top prospects: Wil Myers. Though Myers will probably start the season off in the Minor League, everyone was excited to see a player known for hitting. Myers grounded out and walked, good signs since he is willing to put the ball into play (yay to no more strikeouts) and walked, an important part of Rays baseball. Myers admits to initially being nervous,  “New jersey on a new team, a new field, but I was excited to be out there and I thought it went well.”

The first pitchers of the game were impressive: Roberto Hernandez retired three batters with 12 pitches, Jeff Niemann retired three with 11 pitches, and Fernando Rodney retiring three batters with ten pitches (notice the 12-11-10?). Rodney even did a “spring training” arrow. The last rotation spot will be either Hernandez and Niemann.

The Pirates scored first in the 4th inning off of right-handed pitcher J.D. Martin. Martin has a Minor League career 72-49 record with a 3.78 ERA. Martin pitched two innings. The next pitcher Mike Montgomery (acquired through the trade with Kansas City Royals) gave up two runs to the Pirates. Rays finally scored two runs in the 8th inning when Nick Weglarz walked (on two outs) followed by Rich Thompson’s single. After a balk and a ground-rule double by Kevin Kiermaier, the Rays score two runs.

The Rays ended up losing 3-2 against the Pirates. Besides the substitutes, the other Rays to get a hit in the game were: Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson.  Due to the World Classic Baseball, Spring Training has started earlier, meaning coach Joe Maddon’s goal is to not overuse the players before the season starts. Attendance was only 4,436, probably.

Spring Training: Valentine’s Day Update

Hello fellow baseball fans. It being Valentine’s Day, love Spring Training is in the air. Though it is raining here (and not at all sunny in the sunshine state) the Tampa Bay Rays were able to get some work done. So here are the hot stories today from Port Charlotte.  

  • Wil Myers is Awesome: One of the top baseball prospects was traded to the Rays from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis over the winter break. As everyone knows, the Rays can’t hit, so the fact that a hitter is in practice is great news. “It’s impressive,” said hitting coach Derek Shelton, “And I think the most impressive thing is the bat speed. And the way the ball comes off his bat.” At the moment, Myers is likely to start the season at Triple-A. Hopefully, he will be ready if the Rays decide to call him up around the All-Star Break. He is an outfielder so I predict he will be in left field.

  • Reid Brignac Trade: Infielder Reid Brignac has been traded to the Colorado Rockies for cash and a player to be named later. Reid has been with the Rays since 2004 and while he was ranked 17th best MLB prospect in 2007, he never lived up to expectations. He had a good season with the Rays in 2009 (BA .278) and was supposed to be the new shortstop after Jason Bartlett was traded, but after two disappointing years, he was optioned to AAA Durham in 2011(BA  .193) to make room for outfielder Desmond Jennings. 

  • Starting Pitcher Roster: At the moment, three of the five starting pitching positions are (set (Cy Young winner David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, and Matt Moore). The last two spots will be either Alex Cobb, Jeff Niemann, Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi. Cobb should be pitcher number four, so it looks like the fifth spot will probably be between injury-prone Niemann or Hernandez, a man who changed his name illegally when he came to the United States to play baseball…
  • Bullpen: Bullpen was pretty impressive last year, but Burke Badenhop, Wade Davis, and J.P. Howell are no longer with the Rays. That leaves closer Fernando Rodney, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, and starting pitcher #6 to fill up the bullpen. The final spot in the bullpen is between Jamey Wright, Brandon Gomes, and Josh Lueke.
  • Catchers: Every Christmas I ask for a catcher, and every year Santa fails to bring the Rays a decent one. Jose Molina is the main catcher this year (I wish he could bat) so the backup catcher is where the battle is at; it is between Jose Lobaton and Chris Gimenez.
  • Line-Up: Though some players, like Evan Longoria, have permanent positions, others will be battling or sharing positions through out the season. Here is what I predict the roster is going to look like:

1st Base: James Loney

2nd Base: Kelly John/Ben Zobrist

Shortstop: Yunel Escobar

3rd Base: Evan Longoria

Left Field: Sam Fuld/Wil Myers

Center Field: Desmond Jennings

Right Field: Matt Joyce/Ben Zobrist

DH: Luke Scott

Utility Players: Ryan Roberts & Sean Rodriquez 

  • The first official game of Spring Training is at home (Charlotte Spots Park) against the Pittsburgh Pirates on February 23, 2013. The Pirates are my second favorite team (my parents are from Pittsburgh), though I will probably wait until the Rays arrive in Bradenton to play the Rays at McKechnie Field. McKechnie Field is turning 90-years old this year and just went through a $10 million renovation. To see the rest of the Rays’ schedule, click here.
  • Here are players that are no longer Rays, I wish them the best of luck: 
  1. B.J. Upton (Atlanta Braves)
  2. James Shields (Kansas City Royals)
  3. Wade Davis (Kansas City Royals)
  4. J.P. Howell (Los Angeles Dodgers)
  5. Burke Badenhop (Milwakee Brewers)
  6. Jeff Keppinger (Chicago White Sox)
  7. Elliot Johnson ( Kansas City Royals)
  8. Carlos Pena (Houston Astros)
  9. Will Rhymes (Washington Nationals)