Results tagged ‘ Ben Zobrist ’

6-3 recap before Royals finale

ST. PETERSBURG — Got some time to kill here before players have to report for their 4:08 p.m. ET game against the Royals on Thursday (is it just me, or is that a really odd time for a weekday game?).

Anyway, bunch of stuff from last night — which ended with the Rays beating Kansas City, 9-0, to improve to 27-28 and move to five back of the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East.
* Evan Longoria’s sore left hamstring is fine. He’s likely to start at third base once Tampa Bay starts its four-game road series against the Yankees on Friday. I haven’t seen the lineup yet, but I can’t imagine he’d be on it Thursday.
UPDATE: Longoria just finished running around the infield and playing catch along the right-field line.
* Pat Burrell (stiff neck) was in here early getting treatment. He hit off the tee on Wednesday and is scheduled to do so again. The 32-year-old will stay back while his team is in New York this weekend and take live batting practice. If all goes well, the Rays will map out a schedule for him to take part in some rehab games.
* Jason Bartlett (left ankle sprain) and Scott Kazmir (mechanics issues and a right quad strain) are progressing, but still no timetable. Kazmir threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and will continue to do so — with a couple of off-days in between — for about a week. Then, perhaps, get in some rehab games (though that’s still unknown). It’s going to be interesting to see how the Rays handle Bartlett in the next six days. He’s eligible to come off his DL stint on Wednesday, but not much is known as to whether or not he’ll be ready.
* In case you haven’t heard, Jeff Niemann was really good on Wednesday night. In fact, better than he’s ever been since being the Rays’ fourth overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. The 26-year-old rookie — who’s had a rough start to his career ever since that Draft day — now sports a 2.03 ERA in his last five starts and is beginning to look like the 6-foot-9, hard-throwing, downhill stud Tampa Bay expected.
* More Niemann: With his complete-game, two-hitter on Wednesday (though the second-to-last out could’ve been ruled an error by Joe Dillon at third base) he became the eighth player in Rays history to throw a complete game shutout with two or fewer hits and the third Tampa Bay rookie. It was also the first complete game or shutout by a Rays pitcher since Matt Garza on Aug. 15, 2008, against the Rangers (afterward, Garza made sure he gave his teammate props by decking him in the face with a shaving-cream pie).
After Wednesday’s game, Maddon beamed about Niemann’s newfound confidence lately, and he feels it can continue to improve after his latest outing:
“When you can get a young pitcher to throw a complete game, often times it really does boost their confidence even more,” Maddon said. “To be able to be out there in the ninth inning standing and have command of the game does a lot for your confidence. … He’s starting to get it. He’s still a young man, there’s still a long ways to go, but I’ve seen a steady improvement in him over the last couple of months.”
With Scott Kazmir on the shelf, if Niemann — who many saw as the biggest question mark in the rotation going into the season — can continue to show he was worth an early pick in the Draft, the already dangerous Rays rotation could be flat-out deadly.
* Another below-the-radar guy who keeps producing is Ben Zobrist. More on his franchise-record fourth career grand slam on Wednesday will be on the site later, but here are some interesting numbers about Zobrist’s recent production, courtesy of the Rays’ PR staff.
- He’s started 11 straight games and reached base in 40 of his last 77 plate appearances (22-for-58, 16 walks, five home runs, 19 RBIs and seven doubles).
- Is currently tied for his career-high with a nine-game hitting streak that has him batting .387 (12-for-31) with nine walks in that span.
- He’s raised his team-best slugging percentage to .659, which would’ve been second in the AL — trailing Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis’ .664 — but Zobrist is 14 plate appearances shy of qualifying.
- Has 22 home runs in 331 at-bats since the beginning of 2008 — an average of 15.05 at-bats per home run.
Yes, eight guys — including four starters — are currently on the shelf for the Rays. But at least some of those who fans perhaps didn’t expect much from at the beginning of the year are keeping them afloat.
– Alden Gonzalez

Iwamura likely headed to DL; Bartlett, Shields fine

MIAMI — The reports were still a little hazy, but Akinori Iwamura is likely headed to the 15-day disabled list with a left knee injury, manager Joe Maddon said.

Iwamura said it was the worst pain he had ever felt since getting to the United States but wanted to wait for the MRIs before speculating if he’d be out for a long period of time.
For now, Maddon said his options at second base are open, with Willy Aybar, Ben Zobrist and recent call-up Reid Brignac being options.

“He’s not feeling really good right now,” Maddon said about Iwamura, who was in a brace.

“Obviously, when you get hit like that, you’re going to be in a lot of pain. And once he sat himself up, he was able to gather himself. I think the initial shot probably hurt a lot, but, again, I don’t know what it is, and I just know that we’re going to have a setback, and then do the MRI thing, and if I had to guess, he’s going to be on the DL.”

As for Jason Bartlett, who hurt his left ankle after being slid into by a stealing Dan Uggla and trying to pick catcher Dioner Navarro’s throw, that situation doesn’t appear to be too serious. Bartlett stayed in the game after walking it off. He won’t be in the lineup in the beginning of a four-game series against the Indians on Monday, but that was a planned off-day, considering he’s 0-for-15 lifetime against starter Fausto Carmona.

“I think [Uggla] just slid over it, and [the left ankle] rolled on me,” Bartlett said. “Tomorrow was a day off anyway, so hopefully it will feel better.”

James Shields was fine after getting hit by a comebacker from Ross Gload with two outs in the seventh inning. Maddon just wanted to get Grant Balfour in the game there.

– Alden Gonzalez

Rays – Marlins Game 1 lineups

MIAMI — Yes, the Rays are still expected to play a game tonight. It’s been raining down here all week, but the skies look clear for now — phew! Gabe Gross is in the lineup today instead of last night’s hero, Ben Zobrist. Manager Joe Maddon said he liked the matchup with Gross and Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco better.

Tampa Bay
B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Gross, RF
Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Dioner Navarro, C
Andy Sonnanstine, P
Florida
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B
Jeremy Hermida, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Jorge Cantu, 1B
John Baker, C
Dan Uggla, 2B
Cody Ross, CF
Chris Coghlan, LF
Nolasco, P
– Alden Gonzalez

Red Sox – Rays lineups, Game 4

ST. PETERSBURG — “We have to get back to winning series,” is what designated hitter Pat Burrell said after Saturday’s 10-6 letdown against the Red Sox.

The Rays will have one last chance to do it against Boston on Sunday afternoon.
Dioner Navarro will get an off-day behind the plate because of the quick turnaround — giving way to Michel Hernandez — Ben Zobrist will start for the second straight game — this time in right field as Jason Bartlett returns to shortstop — and Tampa Bay will be without the services of Gabe Gross.
But he has a legitimate excuse.
Gross flew to Alabama on Sunday as his wife, Kelly, is expected to give birth to their first girl. Manager Joe Maddon said he expects the 29-year-old outfielder back by Tuesday’s game against the Orioles.
On to the lineups:
Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Julio Lugo, SS
SP: Brad Penny
Rays
B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Pat Burrell, DH
Zobrist, RF
Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Bartlett, SS
Hernandez, C
SP: James Shields
– Alden Gonzalez

Red Sox – Rays lineups, Game 3

ST. PETERSBURG — To quote one of my favorite movie lines ever (courtesy of fictional character Lou Brown from ‘Major League’): “We won a game yesterday. We win one today, that’s two in a row. We win one tomorrow, that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before.”

For the Rays, it can happen on Saturday night, when they host the Red Sox in the third of a four-game series at 7:08 p.m. ET. It would be the Rays’ first three-game winning streak of the season if they can beat Tim Wakefield.
Couple of changes for Tampa Bay with the veteran knuckleballer on the other side. Ben Zobrist will take the place of Jason Bartlett at shortstop, and Gabe Kapler will man right field.
Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
George Kottaras, C
Nick Green, SS
SP: Wakefield
Rays
B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena 1B
Pat Burrell, DH
Zobrist, SS
Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Kapler, RF
Doner Navarro, C
SP: Jeff Niemann
– Alden Gonzalez
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