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

 

Longoria and Loney in camp

Evan Longoria and James Loney arrived this morning.

Loney, who prefers an economy of words, already spoke to reporters. Longoria should be talking to us later.  Both seemed excited to be in camp, which is the overall mood.

–Bill Chastain

Athletes Arrive

Tom Foley strolled through the clubhouse prior to Sunday morning’s workout proclaiming, “The athletes have arrived.”

The Rays third base coach spoke loud enough for the pitchers to take note.  He delivers the message annually once position players begin to trickle in since they are the “athletes” and the pitchers are, well, pitchers.

A good sign for any club is the early arrival of position players.  Highlighting the group that arrived Sunday were reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers, along with Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce.

The Rays’ first full-squad workout takes place Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park.

–Bill Chastain

Spirited Group

I’m always amused when somebody asks me, “What’s the mood in the clubhouse?”  Nevertheless, I can’t help notice the mood of this year’s squad.

Starting at the top with ace David Price, the Rays come off as an enthusiastic — and confident bunch.  While I still believe talent trumps anything where winning baseball teams are concerned, the Rays’ attitude certainly seems like a positive that will enhance their chances of winning given the overall talent of the group.

Obviously, there is a boatload of baseball to be played, but from the outset, this appears to be a championship caliber team.

–Bill Chastain

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