This Week In Baseball

That’s always a good show…hopefully this post title doesn’t result in any lawsuits.  So it gets back, at least somewhat, to business as usual today following the big fight scene of yesterday.  Now I don’t exactly advocate the Rays fighting in every game, but yesterday it was in self-defense and it was warranted.  They need to show aggression like that as often as possible.  It was that they did just that that I and other Rays fans appreciated.  Anyway, in other news…

-The Yankees have another way to get in the headlines today, this time against the Pirates.  They plan to start Billy Crystal at designated hitter.  I never thought he was anything special as an entertainer, but this is definitely an interesting attention ploy.  It reminds me of Garth Brooks going to Spring Training back when he was famous.

-Meanwhile, our beloved Rays face the Boston Red Sox today.  On the field, being a division rival, they are just as much the enemy as the Yankees–and being the defending World Champions, they are once again the team to beat.  We need to set a tempo early with them, too.  Not the kind we had with New York, I mean playing hard and consistently winning.

-I’ve been reading Braves box scores as well during this month, as they have done quite well for themselves.  All the hype at the Disney Complex appears to be around Yunel Escobar, who leads the Grapefruit League in batting average.  I hear most of my Braves news from my dad, who is still a huge Braves fan, as much as he was during their Division Title streak.  Well, I’m still a fan too, but I’ve really been closely following the Rays this Spring.

-In other non-fighting Rays news, Scott Kazmir threw 33 pitches pain-free this morning, throwing to teammates Joel Guzman and Jon Weber.  He threw five changeups, two sliders, and 26 fastballs.  Next, he’ll pitch Sunday against the Detroit Tigers and slowly build up his pitch counts until Opening Day.  This is yet another positive bit of news in the Kazmir comeback story.

-In one comeback story that may never see its climax, Rocco Baldelli will be starting 2008 on the roster spot to which he has become accustomed: the disabled list.  Apparently, he and the Rays have discovered a disorder that he has, at least temporarily, that results in unusually quick fatigue.  Energy isn’t being processed properly, and as a result, muscles don’t work and recover as they should.  This could explain how it takes Baldelli so long to get over a hamstring injury.  This will result in the Rays most likely not picking up his option for 2009 (they have until April 1 to decide), potentially making him a free agent.  Of course, they could always negotiate a new deal, but these chronic injuries would have to be further evaluated before contracts are signed.  Will he ever return to the Rays, or even Major League Baseball?  Stay tuned to Days of Our Lives to find out.

-The latest Baldelli injury issue leaves Jonny Gomes and Cliff Floyd to play right field and designated hitter.  The Rays now have to look for a backup outfielder, which could end up being Jon Weber or John Rodriguez.

-Evan Longoria hit his first home run of the Spring against Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon, a drive to left-center field.  We’re getting some of everything out of him, now including his well-known home run power he had in the minor leagues.  As he develops, I think he can easily translate it to the next level.

I’ll close this out on the note that John Smoltz is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut this Saturday against the Rays at Champions Stadium, and is slated to pitch five innings.  Of course, this is the game that anyone who knows me would know that I have tickets to go see.  So this game has just been automatically made worth the price of admission.  However, there is no word on who is going to pitch for the Rays.  Garza pitches today, so does J.P. Howell.  Kazmir pitches Sunday.  Shields?  I would pay to see him and Smoltz…well, I already did pay to see the game.  Then it would be worth it even more so than it is now.  Let it be them.  Until next time, go Rays.

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