Spring Training Update

The Rays are continuing to have a solid but quiet spring. There haven’t really been a lot of news to write about, but it’s been good for the team. I was looking forward to watching just the second televised game of the spring tonight, but unfortunately it was cancelled. This isn’t going to be a very long update but they did send some players back to the minors, players I mentioned in the last update have continued to solidify their positions and then there are good news to all Andy Sonnanstine fans.

A bunch of guys have been sent back down to minor league camp, as expected. The biggest profiles being Tim Beckham, Jeremy Hellickson, Desmond Jennings and Fernando Perez. Beckham made a few errors and I didn’t hear a lot of hype about him. But the other three could be among the first to be called up if injuries happen at their position during the season. Especially Hellickson did a really good job.

The favorites to make it onto the roster haven’t changed since my last update. Rodriguez and Brignac are still having very strong springs and it is not really a question of whether they will make the roster or not but how Maddon will try and get both of them and Zobrist on the field. Based on playing time it looks like Brignac will be at second, Zobrist will split time between second and right field and Rodriguez will be a utility guy who can play both the middle infield and outfield. As for the other right fielder to split time with Zobrist, it seems like the favorite is Matt Joyce.

The most interesting news that have come up regarding position battles is Joe Maddon declaring that the battle for the 5th spot in the rotation is wide open between Sonnanstine and Wade Davis. Davis looked like the clear favorite but given the Rays recent tendency of letting top prospects start the season with a month or two in Durham maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising. They did the same thing with both Longoria and David Price. After a bad first outing Sonnanstine has had eight consecutive shutout innings. Davis on the other hand has been a bit shakier, getting 5 earned runs in two innings against the Pirates last week and another five in two innings against the Twins tonight.

A few other things worth mentioning:

–  Carlos Pena finally broke out of his 0-21 slump in style in style, hitting a home run. I don’t know why but neither Maddon nor Pena seems to be worried at all so I guess we shouldn’t be either.

–  Soriano has made his debut and so far he has played 2 innings with no earned runs, three strikeouts and one walk. Good start so far.

–  We haven’t seen Leslie Anderson yet but Hank Blalock is batting .389 with a couple of doubles in 14 at bats. He hasn’t shown a ton of power yet but he gets on base and scores runs.

–  Navarro got roughed up on a play at the plate and while he showed up on crutches in the clubhouse he says it is no big deal and he will be ready to start the season.

–  J.P. Howell however will not. It is kind of a strange situation because they aren’t saying that he is injured, but that his shoulder simply isn’t strong enough right now to be pitching on a regular basis. I can’t find anything about him having surgery in the offseason so I don’t really understand why his shoulder would be so weak but I’m glad the Rays doctors are on top of it instead of pushing him to play too much.

That’s all for this update. Hopefully the boys can keep this up, creating plays and wins on the field without any big off field headlines.