A lot of activity going on at Tropicana Field.
They just played what appeared to be a test run for the “Aussie Rage” music they plan to play when Grant Balfour enters the game — not bad.
Also, this date holds significance. Sixteen years ago, the Rays played their inaugural game at Tropicana Field when they met the Tigers and lost. The complexion of the team has changed dramatically since those halcyon days.
A day after telling Mark Lowe that he would not start the season on the Major League roster, the Rays released the veteran right-hander on Wednesday.
Lowe, 33, had a good spring, making seven appearances and allowing one earned run in 10 1/3 innings.
Maddon told reporters on Tuesday that the Rays wanted to give veterans Lowe, Jayson Nix and Wilson Betemit an opportunity to find Major League jobs, which is why they told the trio they would not be with the Rays at the beginning of the season.
A day after the Rays got rained out in Fort Myers, the early weather here in Port Charlotte didn’t look too promising today.
But now things are clearing up and the chances of playing today’s game at Charlotte Sports Park are looking good.
Matt Moore might have walked six in 4 2/3 innings, but according to Joe Maddon, the southpaw’s stuff was the best he’s seen from Moore since Moore won the first game of the 2011 Division Series against the Rangers. Moore touched 97 and his breaking stuff looked particularly sharp.
The Rays had 20 hits Tuesday night — you don’t think the team wishes the regular had started, do you? Something about wasting hits.
After the game outfielder Jeremy Moore and catcher Eddy Rodriguez were re-assigned to Minor-League camp. Maddon continued to be impressed with Moore, whom he’s called “interesting” on more than one occasion.
Joe Maddon didn’t have enough superlatives about David Price and the way he threw Sunday. The Rays ace told Hickey before the game that he wished it was Opening Day. Given the way he pitched one could certainly understand why.
Maddon gave kudos to Logan Forsythe for the diving catch he made in left while playing the outfield for the first time this spring, noting that the stiff breeze whipping around Charlotte Sports Park made for a “tough field.”
Mark Lowe pitched well again prompting Maddon to note: “He’s been fantastic.” Looks to me like he’s going to start the season in the Rays’ bullpen.
Wil Myers did not play Sunday after fouling a ball off his right quadriceps Saturday in Bradenton. Myers said he felt fine on Sunday and Maddon agreed.
Sean Rodriguez has a tight left hamstring. He is expected to play in a Minor-League game Tuesday in Port Charlotte.
The Rays are off Monday, but not Alex Cobb. He’ll pitch in a Minor-League game at Fort Myers.
Wil Myers left Saturday afternoon’s game in against the Pirates in the third inning after fouling a ball off his right leg.
Myers suffered a bruise to his right quad.
Nathan Karns started for the Rays and did nothing to diminish his chances to earn the fifth spot in the rotation. He looked composed, put zeroes on the scoreboard, and even pitched out of a little trouble.
Back in a Minor League game at Port Charlotte, Alex Cobb allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out four; Grant Balfour pitched 2/3 of an inning, allowed a hit and struck out one — nine of his 15 pitches were strikes; and Joel Peralta allowed one hit — a home run — while striking out one in an inning of work.
Jeremy Moore continues to hit for power. Wednesday he hit a tumultuous blast that cleared the batter’s eye screen in center field. Karns noted of the blast: “He hit that one to Toronto.” That’s three home runs for Moore this spring. Jerry Sands, like Moore, has been ripping the baseball and his ninth-inning home run — his third of the spring — gave the Rays a 5-4 win. Maddon complimented both Moore and Sands for what they’ve shown this spring.
Mark Lowe continues to look sharp. He allowed no earned runs on two hits and he struck out three in 1 2/3 innings. The right-hander has the look of the veteran reliever who has a good chance of making the team. Maddon spoke lovingly of his slider after the game.
David Price looked sharp today while striking out eight in five innings against the Twins. He noted that his cutter and curve were particularly good.
David DeJesus returned to action Tuesday and became part of an interesting play on a day when instant replay wasn’t available. DeJesus tried to score from third on a bunt to the pitcher in the fifth, subsequently he was called out at home, without a collision.
After the ruling, DeJesus was on his way back to the dugout when he suddenly tip-toed back to touch the plate. Had the replay rule been in effect the call might have been interesting since DeJesus said he had not previously touched the plate, nor had he been tagged. While DeJesus’ action appeared to be a veteran move, he said he could not take credit since the message he received from the dugout was to go back and tag the plate. Maddon and company are trying to condition the team to go one step farther just in case the replay can make a difference.
Grant Balfour got pushed back a day, but he was simply missing a day. He did not have any physical issues according to Maddon. The Rays closer is slated to pitch Wednesday.
The Rays reassigned the following players to Minor League camp: Right-handers Santiago Garrido and Sam Runion; left-hander Braulio Lara; and catcher Curt Casali.
Speaking of Casali, he went out with a bang, knocking a double to left in the ninth inning that scored Brandon Guyer from first.
Finally, Jeremy Moore’s power continues to be something to behold. Last week he hit an opposite field homer; Tuesday he crushed a two-run homer to right field.
Peralta left the game a little earlier than expected in Saturday’s loss to the Pirates.
The Rays veteran reliever’s neck tightened up when he got a come-backer to the mound in the sixth. Maddon wanted to leave him in so he would know he felt good then took him out for precautionary reasons. Peralta said he felt fine after the game.
Ben Zobrist was a late scratch for Saturday’s Rays-Pirates contest due to a stiff neck.
Zobrist had been scheduled to start at second base and hit in the leadoff spot.