The Rays fell to the Minnesota Twins 6-4 Saturday afternoon, marking their fourth straight Grapefruit League loss.
David Price was on the mound for Tampa Bay, and had rather shaky outing. He escaped multiple jams, ending the day with 2 earned runs allowed on 9 hits, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts over 5 innings (89 pitches). Price spoke about his start after the game, frustrated with his efficiency.
The two biggest offensive performances of the day came from Yunel Escobar (2-3, RBI) and Jose Lobaton (3-3, HR), who continues to be the favorite for the backup catcher job Opening Day
James Loney hit a run-scoring double and Evan Longoria also had a two-bagger. In the field, Longoria committed his first error of the spring, which cost the Rays a run in this ballgame.
Relievers Kyle Farnsworth and Cesar Ramos both made appearances Saturday out of the ‘pen. It wasn’t a good day at all for Farnsworth, who allowed a run in just 1/3 innings and had to be removed from the game after bruising his right middle finger while reaching for a groundball.
Ramos was perfect in his 2/3 inning pitched, striking out one.
Here’s a full boxscore of Saturday’s game.
Rays News and Notes:
- The Rays reassigned INF Cole Figueroa, INF Leslie Anderson, OF Rich Thompson, RHP Kirby Yates and RHP Dane De La Rosa to minor league camp Saturday in their latest round of cuts.
- The Rays also released Jack Cust, who was signed just a little over a month ago.
- Joe Maddon said he’ll make the fifth starter decision by the middle of next week. Jeff Niemann struggled in his last outing Friday, and his competition Roberto Hernandez was outstanding in his last start. This should be very interesting.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wonders if the Rays could use both Niemann and Hernandez in the rotation.
- Injury update: Sam Fuld (hamstring tightness) will be ready for Opening Day. He’s looked good in recent minor-league spring training action lately, and is returning to Grapefruit League play today.
- Meet the newest member of the Rays TV crew: Kelly Nash.
- Here’s my list of the top 10 Cy Young candidates for 2013.
The Rays added some infield depth Wednesday, signing 2B/3B Mike Fontenot to a minor league contract. The 32-year-old has posted a .265/.332/.401 line over his seven years in the league. He spent his 2012 season in the Phillies’ organization, where he posted a .299 wOBA in 105 Major League plate appearances.
Tampa also signed five other players to minor league deals during their busy Wednesday, including re-signing OF Rich Thompson. Thompson, 33, had just 22 PA’s with the Rays this year and served mostly as a pinch-runner. Here’s the link to the complete report on all the signings.
In much bigger free agent/hot stove news, B.J. Upton has made his anticipated decision, signing with the Atlanta Braves for a 5-year deal worth $75.25 million. The colossal contract was the largest free agent signing in Braves franchise history.
Rays News and Notes:
- The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot features two ex-Rays in 1B/DH Fred McGriff and closer Roberto Hernandez (first time on the ballot). Here’s a link to the full ballot, which features some big [and controversial] first-time names such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, etc.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looks at the details of Evan Longoria’s new contract. Rather than making $6 million in 2013, Longo will make just $2 million. The remaining $4 million was converted into a signing bonus.
- The MLB players’ union also weighs in on the new extension (per Ken Rosenthal).
- DRaysBay.com looks at some potential Rays targets in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
September 1 is now just a day away, which means tomorrow all of MLB’s 30 rosters will expand from 25 players to 40 players. The Rays have already announced their first round of call-ups, which will include catcher Chris Gimenez, reliever Cesar Ramos, outfielder Rich Thompson and infielder Reid Brignac.
Chris Gimenez, who already played 24 games with the Rays earlier this season, will be used as a third backup catcher behind Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina. Expect to see Gimenez get a good amount of at-bats against left-handed pitching this month, as he’s posted an average of .375 versus lefties this year (MLB and AAA).
Cesar Ramos has been up and down between Triple-A Durham and the majors during his past two years with the Rays. Ramos will provide the bullpen with an extra arm and be used primarily against left-handed batters, which are his specialty.
Rich Thompson is another call-up that has already been with the Rays once this season. Thompson—who was acquired from Philadelphia earlier in the year—will mainly serve as a pinch runner and should give the Rays a nice boost on the base pads. He’s hitting .311/.369/.426 with Durham this year, but hasn’t proven that he can hit MLB pitching yet.
After seeing his career take a huge downward turn this year, Reid Brignac is finally returning to the big leagues. Many believed Brignac’s last demotion was the end of his MLB career because of his persistent struggles in the minors, but his chance came at the right time, as Sean Rodriguez—who was expected to be called up instead—broke his hand this week while punching his locker. Hopefully Brignac can help out the infield’s defense and the team’s running game as well.
The next round of call-ups should come after Monday, as Durham’s season comes to an end. A first baseman is one thing we can expect when the Rays make their next moves.
With Carlos Pena’s continuing struggles leading him towards less playing time, don’t be surprised to see the Rays call up either Henry Wrigley or Leslie Anderson. Wrigley and Anderson—both first basemen—have both hit well with Durham this season and have yet to earn a single game in the big leagues. With Pena at an all-time low and the rosters expanding, this is clearly their best opportunity.
Top pitching prospect Chris Archer could also be a possibility in the coming week. After a slow start to the season, Archer has pitched well as of late, and could be a nice addition to the bullpen.