The Rays begin their Grapefruit League season Wednesday in Sarasota against the Orioles. Here’s a look at the pitchers the Rays will face in the early going:
March 3 – Orioles, RHP Jeremy Guthrie
March 5 – Yankees, RHP Phil Hughes; RHP Joba Chamberlain
March 6 – Red Sox, LHP Felix Doubront
March 7 – Phillies, LHP, A.J. Happ
— Bill Chastain
Rain shortened Saturday’s workout, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said all of the pitchers got in their throwing. Jeremy Hellickson was among the pitchers who threw, affording Maddon a chance to pay some attention to the highly regarded prospect.
Among the manager’s observations of Hellickson, “he’s easy” and “quick arm.”
Maddon surmised: “Seems to have a nice feel for what he’s doing out there.”
Maddon told reporters that new hitting coach Derek Shelton did his homework in finding out how many Spring Training at-bats the Rays’ main hitters had when they put together their best seasons. Maddon said he will try to make sure that the hitters have roughly the number of at-bats this spring they had when they had their best seasons. For most that number was 60 to 70 at-bats, but “one or two will have 70-plus at-bats.
Not only did the nasty weather shut down the planned ice cream social, it also cut short the Rays’ workout. Several of the players are still taking batting practice in the covered cages, but for the most part the Saturday workout is over.
Due to bad weather — it’s raining and cold — the Rays’ ice cream social scheduled for this afternoon at Charlotte County Sports Park has been called.
There is no word about whether the event will be re-scheduled.
The Rays announced their starters for the first few exhibition games on Friday. On Saturday they announced the order for the days when two of their starters are scheduled to pitch and here’s how it will go down:
James Shields will start on March 3 against the Yankees and will be followed by Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine will start on March 6 against the Red Sox and will be followed by Wade Davis.
The new team slogan for the Rays in 2010 will be, drum roll please:
“What’s Important Now”
Which leaves a nifty acronym: WIN.
Maddon’s plan for the starting staff as the team heads into the beginning of Spring Training is as follows:
Shields and Garza on March 3 vs. the Orioles; Niemann on March 4 vs. the Orioles; Price on March 5 vs. the Yankees; Sonnanstine; Davis on March 6 vs. the Red Sox; and Shields vs. the Phillies on March 7.
— Bill Chastain
Former Ray Cliff Floyd had some interesting things to say about Carl Crawford’s contract situation on SIRIUS XM’s MLB Home Plate channel hosted by Jim Duquette.
“Well, my feeling is I think he will outprice himself in Tampa,” Floyd said. “Of course, it’s a win-win for CC. My advice to him would be to stay with Tampa because it makes him a ten-five guy and then he can pretty much pick anywhere he wants to go as opposed to being a free agent. But he’s a smart young man and I think the biggest thing he’s got going for himself is the game has changed right into his corner. Defense and stolen bases and batting average and things like that are definitely on his side. So he’s in a win-win. Hopefully he stays healthy and he makes the right decision. I think his decision will probably be that he outprices himself and becomes a free agent. And, of course, the Steinbrenners in New York will be banging at the door to get him.”
Willy Aybar said his wrist is feeling a lot better today.
While taking batting practice Wednesday, Aybar upset a previous injury to left wrist, which prompted the Rays to keep him from swinging a bat for a week.
Sitting in front of his locker Friday morning, Aybar held a bat with his right hand while noting that the injury is not preventing him from catching and throwing. He does not expect his injury to linger.
— Bill Chastain
Rays hitters are braving the elements right now while facing live pitching for the first time this spring.
Though it’s sunny in Port Charlotte, a wicked wind is whipping through the complex, making matters even tougher for hitters, who are well behind pitchers at this point in camp. At this juncture, it’s not much fun to be holding a bat.