Gomes Suspended, Saturday’s Action, More

MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson (once the Yankees’ general manager) has handed out the suspensions for the Rays-Yankees brawl.  The Yankees’ Shelley Duncan and Melky Cabrera were each suspended for the first three games of the regular season and Joe Girardi and two coaches were fined, while the Rays’ Jonny Gomes was suspended for two games.  I suppose you can call that fair–the Yankees, as the aggressors, deserved at least a little more than the Rays.  Gomes can probably be replaced just for two games, I still think it was worth it.  But Gomes will be going to Kissimmee to face the Braves now, rather than the original plan of facing the Yankees, tomorrow.  Of course, the Rays-Braves game is the one that I am attending on my annual trip to the Wide World of Sports Complex, so for more on that…

Read this.  The Braves (Peter Gammons’ "most underrated team") plan to debut both John Smoltz and Rafael Soriano tomorrow at Champions Stadium.  I would call this a huge test for both pitchers as they get back into the swing of Major League pitching.  Meanwhile, the Rays are shipping almost the entire A-team to Steinbrenner Field, and Jason Hammel will be starting, followed by Scott Dohmann and Calvin Medlock.  Hammel will most likely end up as the long reliever, so with the Braves also carrying a split squad, I would expect him to pitch a few innings and try to improve his form for the season.  The Rays will have Evan Longoria, Jonny Gomes, Carlos Pena, and Dioner Navarro as some of the top players in Kissimmee.  So Smoltz will be challenged by a few good hitters, and I have good reason to believe the same for Hammel, who needs to use this time to quickly adjust to this caliber of play.  This should be a great game, despite the projection of far too hot for comfort temperatures.  I’ll need the shade and a boatload of water, but it should be a fun experience as it always is.  I’ll have pictures and commentary when I return to Tampa on Sunday, and until then, go Rays (and Braves).


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