Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rays sweep split squad games; Injuries piling up for Rays

The Rays completed the split squad sweep today defeating the Braves in a wild one 11-10 and a beating the Yankees quietly 7-2. I'm on the road so this recap will be semi-brief. Jeff Niemann(4 Innings, 6 Hits, 1ER, 1K against Yankees) and Jason Hammel(5 Innings, 3 Hits, 0ER, 3K's against Braves) provided the Rays with solid starts. Niemann continues to be solid this spring. As for Hammel, it was a great start coming off a completely awful one against the Indians.

Scott Dohmann, Kurt Birkins and Calvin Medlock all struggled against the Braves giving up a combined 10 runs in 3 Innings. However the offense led by Elliot Johnson(3-5 3 RBI playing 2B and CF) pounded out 12 hits and 11 runs. The Rays jumped on John Smoltz for 5 runs in 4.2 Innings. Also having good days at the plate for the Rays were Carlos Pena and Reid Brignac. Evan Longoria was 1-3 with 2BB and 2 runs scored.

In Tampa thing were kept very civil and there were no questionable plays or dirty ones either. The Rays limited the hitting to the baseball and not the other teams players. In all 4 Rays(Eric Hinske, Chris Richard, Hector Gimenez, Mike Difelice) hit home runs to lead the Rays offense past the Yankees. Hinske is just having a lights out spring with 2 hits including the homer and is batting .480. Gary Glover, Dan Wheeler and Scott Munter provided the Rays with 5 strong relief innings giving up only 1 unearned run. There were no signs of hostility by either team, hopefully a positive sign that the two teams have moved on a little bit from the week of flare ups.

The Injury bug continues to follow the Rays where ever they go. Already this spring Rocco Baldelli, Ben Zobrist, Brian Anderson, Andy Cannizaro, Reid Brignac, Scott Kazmir have all missed time. Anderson's career is over and Baldelli's is in doubt. Zobrist and Kazmir may not be ready by opening day, but shouldn't have to go on the DL. Brignac only missed a few days from a broken toe and is playing and Andy Cannizaro could play as early as Tuesday.

Now you can add Shawn Riggans and Kurt Birkins to that list of injuries now. Riggans was hit in the hand by a Blane Boyer pitch against Atlanta and will receive and X-Ray. This is the latest injury for the often banged up Riggans, He is the favorite to back up Dioner Navarro at C. Kurt Birkins walked of the mound against the Braves without recording an out. Birkins gave up 2 runs before leaving the game. TBO.com is reporting Birkins felt tightness in his bicep.