Seen in Dunedin

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.

–Bill Chastain

March 11 at Charlotte Sports Park

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.

–Bill Chastain

Peralta Fine

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.

–Bill Chastain

Zobrist Scratched

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.

–Bill Chastain

Rays game cancelled

The Rays game with the Orioles has been cancelled due to the weather.  Not only has the game in Sarasota been cancelled, but the sim game got banged after a bolt of lightning struck.  Of note: The parting shot from the sim game saw Heath Bell grab a line drive then strike a pose as if throwing to first, drawing laughter from his teammates.

–Bill Chastain

Odorizzi at the end

Jake Odorizzi finished up Wednesday afternoon’s 5-4 Rays win over the Yankees and showed some good things while doing so.

The 23-year-old right-hander is vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, so seeing him at the end was strange, but he made the most of it by gaining confidence in his change, a.k.a., “The Thing”, which he is working on this spring.

He used the pitch often in the ninth, finishing off the last batter, Peter O’Brien, with an 82 mph changeup that the righthander swung through.

“I’m encouraged,” Odorizzi said. “It’s nice to see hitters swinging and missing in games.”

Because Odorizzi is a starter, he needs to get stretched out with the number of pitches he throws before the start of the season, thus he threw another 25 or 30 pitches after the game.

–Bill Chastain

Three for No. 5

Three candidates for the No. 5 spot in the rotation will pitch today against the Yankees — Jake Odorizzi, Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos.

Talking about the group prior to the Rays early-morning workout, Maddon complimented Odorizzi’s work with his new changeup — “The Thing” — which I wrote about last week. He said he loved the fact that Alex Cobb is helping Odorizzi learn the pitch.

Maddon also noted that they will soon begin to take advantage of Minor League games to allow all three to stretch themselves out for the season.  Nathan Karns, also a candidate for the spot, will pitch tomorrow against the Orioles in Sarasota.

–Bill Chastain

Looking Good

The Rays are looking really good, particularly this early in camp.

Maddon complimented all of the pitchers in camp, noting the clubhouse is full of Major League arms.

Some observations from today:

Matt Moore had a really nice curveball.  Maddon noted that the lefty’s 93 mph was pretty sweet at this juncture of camp.

Ray Olmedo, known for his glove had two RBIs and Jeremy Moore crushed an opposite-field home run to left in the eighth. Maddon declared that Moore “makes the field look small.”

Kirby Yates did a nice job finishing off the 6-1 Rays win over the Phillies with a one-two-three ninth.

–Bill Chastain

Lineup Looks Close to Expected Opening Day Lineup

Here’s the Rays’ lineup for today’s game against the Pirates. I’m thinking this could look a lot like the Opening Day lineup except I’d put Zobrist at second, Hanigan at catcher, and, of course, Price as the starter.

Feb 28

–Bill Chastain

Zim is in Town

The first full-squad workout is taking place today.  Of note, Don Zimmer showed up for the occasion.

Zimmer, who is a senior adivsor, is entering his 11th season with the Rays organization and his 66th in professional baseball.

All of the players were happy to see “Zim”.  Below Wil Myers shakes hands with the veteran baseball man.

                                                                                 Zimmer Feb 20, 2014


–Bill Chastain



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