Happy Opening Day!!!
I hope everyone went to the doctor and received prescriptions for high blood pressure and anxiety medication over the off-season because this season is expected to be the most exciting one in Tampa Bay Rays’ history. Several sports analysts predict the Rays will make it to the World Series. Now before Rays fans get too excited, there are 162 regular season games to be played.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Jose Reyes SS (left with hamstring tightness) –> Ryan Goins
- Melky Cabrera LF
- Jose Bautista RF
- Edwin Encarnacion
- Dioner Navarro DH (remember him? 2008 Rays All-Star catcher)
- Brett Lawrie 3B
- Colby Rasmus CF
- Maicer Izturis 2B
- Josh Thole C –> Erik Kratz
- R.A. Dickey SP
Tampa Bay Rays
- David DeJesus LF –> Brandon Guyer
- Wil Myers RF
- Ben Zobrist 2B
- Evan Longoria 3B
- James Loney 1B
- Desmond Jennings CF
- Matt Joyce DH
- Jose Molina C
- Yunel Escobar SS
- David Price SP
David Price looked ready for the 2014 baseball season as he walked to the mound. Price had a quick 1-2-3 inning by getting Jose Reyes to fly out to center, Melky Cabrera to ground out to shortstop, and Jose Bautista to strike out. Rays leadoff hitter David DeJesus popped out, but Wil Myers wasted no time showing fans what to expect of him this season by hitting a double. After Ben Zobrist struck out, Evan Longoria singled to bring Myers home. Isn’t the Myers-Longoria threat beautiful? Price repeated his awesomeness in the second inning, quickly bringing the Rays back up to bat. Both Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce are expected to be better offensively and both showed a positive sign that they were heading into that direction; Jennings doubled and Joyce walked. With two on, Jose Molina struck out, Yunel Escobar flied out to right, and DeJesus walked, bringing Myers up to bat in a bases-loaded situation. Myers being Myers, he singled to bring Jennings and Joyce home. At the end of the second inning, Rays lead 3-0.
In the third inning, Price allowed a walk to Colby Rasmus to end his 6-player retiring streak. Bautista singled, but Price was able to end the threat by getting Josh Thole to ground into a double play and Ryan Goins to ground out. The Rays added to their lead with Longoria leading off with a walk, Loney moving Longoria over by grounding out to pitcher, Longoria moving to third on a wild pitch, and scoring when Joyce hit a sacrifice fly to center. It looked as though the replay challenge was going to be used when Longoria slid into second base, but the Jays decided not to challenge it (Longoria was safe in the replays). The fourth inning was scary when Cabrera singled to center and Bautista singled to left, but Price was able to strike Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie out while getting Dioner Navarro to fly out to center.
At the bottom of the fifth inning, Zobrist led off with a walk. Longoria popped out to third (darn these infield popups), Loney walked, but then Jennings grounded out into a fielder’s choice, sending Loney back to the dugout. With two-on and two-out, Joyce doubled to right, bringing Zobrist and Jennings home. Molina flied out to center to end the inning, but the Rays now lead 6-0 over the Jays.
In the seventh inning, Loney lead off with a single and stole a base. Joyce doubled to send Loney to home plate where he was out. Molina ended the inning with a hit to shortstop (at least he hit the ball this time). Erik Kratz hits a 2-run homerun in the eighth inning. Kratz replaced pitch-hit for Thole, making his debut for his new team (so of course he hits a homerun on the first pitch against the Rays). After Price struck out Goins, Joe Maddon made the call to the bullpen and Joel Peralta was sent out. Price allowed 2 runs on 6 hits with 102 pitches. Peralta retires the next two batters to end the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Dejesus comes out after being hit by a pitch during a pickoff at first. Brandon Guyer replaces DeJesus and waits on first as Myers approaches the plate. Myers ends up scoring both Guyer and himself due to a throwing error by pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and a throwing error by Bautista. Zobrist walks his third walk of the game, Longoria singles, and Loney hits a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist. Jennings singles to load the bases, but Molina (once again) ends the inning by grounding out. Rays now lead 9-2.
In the ninth, Brandon Gomes struck out Encarnacion, gave up a hit to Navarro, struck out Lawrie, and gets Rasmus to ground out to end the game. Rays win 9-2!
1 game down, 161 to go…
What I like:
- Offense: Almost every Ray contributed to the game today and some runs were even scored when the base runners were in scoring positions AND there were two outs. Crazy.
- Defense: Desmond Jennings make a spectacular catch in the first, a great start for the team since the defense wasn’t the best last year. Minus a ball that past Yunel Escobar’s glove, the defense looked what it is expected to be all the time.
- Pitching: David Price looked amazing – he wasn’t 100% perfect, but he looked ready to lead the team to plenty of wins his final year in Tampa Bay. Joel Peralta and Brandon Gomes.
What I didn’t like:
- Evan Longoria and Wil Myers being separated. Joe Maddon probably has some explanation, but shush and put the powerhouses next to each other.
- It’s still too early and I’m determined not to bring up the past, but certain players need to stop being an instant out (who know who I’m talking about).
- The construction on I-275 is making the usual 30-45 minute drive to St. Petersburg to a 2-hour ordeal. For any Rays fans planning on making the trip to St. Pete this season, please leave early or expect some fun times on the Howard Franklin.
Jays haven’t won a series at the Trop since April 2007.
Replay challenge was used for the first time this season during the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates game. The play was upheld and took a long time of 2 minutes to decide it… Good-bye 10 minute yelling matches between managers and umpires.
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)
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.
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.
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:
- B.J. Upton (Atlanta Braves)
- James Shields (Kansas City Royals)
- Wade Davis (Kansas City Royals)
- J.P. Howell (Los Angeles Dodgers)
- Burke Badenhop (Milwakee Brewers)
- Jeff Keppinger (Chicago White Sox)
- Elliot Johnson ( Kansas City Royals)
- Carlos Pena (Houston Astros)
- Will Rhymes (Washington Nationals)