James Shields was officially named the team's opending day starter for the April 6th game against the Baltimore Orioles. He will be making his team record third straight opening day start. In addition to that record, Shields could become the franchise's all-time leader in games starter, innings pitched and wins by the end of 2010. For more of my undying fandom for Shields, check out the "Ace of Rays" feature in the DRB 2010 annual.
Yesterday, we learned that the Rays had agreed (in principle) to a team with Cuban National, Leslie Anderson. While the official welcoming has yet to be made, Joe Maddon said that he hopes to see Anderson in camp this month. With Carlos Pena, Hank Blalock, Willy Aybar and Dan Johnson, the team can take plenty of time with Anderson.
In addition to the scouting reports on Anderson, here is a fantastic piece written by Michael Lewis (who else?) about baseball in Cuba. Towards the end of the story, Anderson is featured. The piece even includes a picture of the new Ray and Fidel Castro. Here is an excerpt:
The main character—the one you have to try notto watch—is the Camagüey center-fielder. He moves with the assurance of a player who knows he is the best; he sets himself apart by wearing, under his jersey, the sleeves of the Cuban national team. He runs and throws like a big-leaguer and in the first six innings makes several sensational catches in center field. He singles in one run, doubles in two more, and does everything with the grace and ease of a young man playing an imaginary game against imaginary opponents. His name, oddly for a Cuban, is Leslie Anderson. The game isn’t an hour old before it becomes clear that, whatever happens, Leslie Anderson is likely to be in the middle of it.
I'm even more interested and excited about Leslie Anderson after reading this.