February 2012

Moore Not Throwing Today

Matt Moore will not throw his scheduled bullpen today.

The rookie left-hander has a mild abdominal strain, which began bothering him during his last bullpen session.  Moore does not feel as though the problem will be a major setback.

–Bill Chastain

First Full-Squad Workout

At approximately 9:30 Sunday morning the Rays began their first full-squad workout by meeting as a group in right field of Field 4 at the Charlotte Sports Complex.

Rays manager Joe Maddon first addressed the troops before different members of the organization delivered their remarks.  Included in that group was traveling secretary Jeff Ziegler, who always ends the meeting with a joke — usually of a blue variety.  Once again, “Ziggy” delivered the goods, evoking raucous laughter before the team broke up to begin their workout.

–Bill Chastain

Maddon Gets in on “Zim Bear” Craze

Joe Maddon couldn’t resist getting in on the “Zim Bear” craze, so after practice, the Rays manager fashioned a “Zim Bear” on his right shoulder when he talked to reporters.  Here’s a look:


Zim Bear Craze

The “Zim Bear” is becoming a national craze.  As you can well imagine, everyone at the Rays’ camp is having a good time teasing Don Zimmer about the promotional item that will be a giveaway in the Rays June 29th game against Detroit.  Zim, who is a baseball treasure, has been a good sport about the “Zim Bear” and took time to pose with the bear when he arrived Friday morning. Zimmer said Tigers manager and old friend Jim Leyland has called him several times to express his candid opinion about the Zim Bear.

Shortly after Zim’s photo shoot, Ben Zobrist arrived, which signified that all of the position players have arrived to camp.

–Bill Chastain

Pena Arrives

Carlos Pena arrived to camp on Thursday (will have a story about that later on the site) much to the delight of the fans attending the workouts.

Pena looked in great shape and was all smiles as usual.  In talking to him with a group of other reporters, he seemed to genuinely be touched to be returning to the team and the teammates he loves. He also expressed his feelings about Rays fans, who have always embraced him.

–Bill Chastain

Rays Indifferent About Cashman’s Remarks

Brian Cashman spoke candidly on Sunday when asked about another team  being added to the playoffs. During the course of the dialogue created by the question, the Yankees general manager noted that the prospect of having another Wild Card team, which would have to play the other Wild Card team, would enhance the value of winning the division.  And by doing so, the situation the Yankees found themselves in 2010 would be eliminated.  The Rays won the AL East by one game that season and the Yankees became the Wild Card.

“I won’t say we gave [the division] away [in 2010] because Tampa earned it,” Cashman said. “Be we were willing to not win it if it meant putting ourselves in a better position to move forward in October. Those are choices that I think it’s best to eliminate from the equation, and the commissioner has done a great thing by doing that in my opinion.”

Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon wore the face of indifference on Tuesday when asked about Cashman’s remarks.

“I think that we’re focussed on 2012 and the grind that is the American League East,” Friedman said. “There’s no point in going back on that. Obviously we read it, but our focus is forward.”

Added Maddon: “Yeah, the banner’s up there, that’s cool.”

–Bill Chastain

Camp is Open

Smiles permeated the Rays’ clubhouse Monday morning.  Pitchers and catchers reported, bringing together a close group for the beginning of what they hope will be a special season.

Count J.P. Howell among those with the broadest grins.  Howell, who returned from shoulder surgery with mixed results last season, now feels like he’s on even ground with his teammates since he’s not having to follow any special routines like the ones he followed during his rehab.

Howell’s enthusiasm is infections.  When someone pointed out that the fact that his beard is now longer than his hair, the left-hander responded: “Reverse the curse.”

Howell feels confident about the coming season and that confidence can definitely go a long way for the Rays.

–Bill Chastain