PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 29: Reid Brignac #15 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at the Charlotte Sports Park on February 29, 2012 in Port Charlotte, Florida (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Steve wasn't able to get the Rays Tank up today, so I created this shortened version for him.
The big news yesterday was the Ray's four-inning intrasquad game. This was the first official "game" so far, and is the welcome sign of a new season coming upon us. Some highlights included Cesar Ramon striking out two batters in his first inning, Reid Brignac hitting a homer (yes, that actually happened), Alex Cobb throwing a perfect inning with two strikeouts, and.... Evan Longoria getting hit in the hand by a Matt Bush fastball! Thankfully, the X-rays on the hand were negative. ST serves up numerous injuries this year, and the Rays managed to avoid a major one. After all, Matt Bush throws reeaallyy hard, and it is a wonder Longoria didn't hurt his hand worse.
On the other hand, Matt Bush might just be the most thankful out of all the players. Can you imagine being a guy competing for a spot and seriously injuring the team's star in a meaningless intrasquad game?
Onto some more links......
- While the extra wild card's details haven't "officially" been released yet, Friedman, Maddon, and several Rays players all seemed to like the idea of an extra wildcard. Personally, I'm happy they got it done. I'm not wild about the idea of a 1 game playoff for the two wildcard teams, but the addition increases the odds the Rays get in the playoffs. It should also offer some more incentive for teams to win the division.
- There is an interview up with Ray's prospect Jake Hager, in which Hager seems confident he is heading to Bowling Green next year. With the amount of SS prospects the Rays have in the low minors, it should be interesting to see how the placement of each pans out.
- In the Tampa Tribune, Roger Mooney had an excellent piece about Joel Peralta's transformation from a journeyman reliever into a set-up man on a playoff team. It seems that Peralta's success, especially late in the year, was overlooked. He figures to be a major piece of the Ray's bullpen this year.
- Over at RaysDigest, John Gregg continued his interviews with broadcasters, this time interviewing Grant McAuley of the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs.
- ESPN's Buster Olney ranked the early-season AL schedules. The Rays come in at #3, as in the third hardest. If the Rays come out of the rough stretch with a winning record, I'll be a very happy fan.
- In a non-Rays note, Yadier Molina, Jose's brother, signed a very large contract extension with the Cardinals, spanning five years and worth a guaranteed 75 million. There is also a mutual option at the end for another 15 million and the extension gives Molina a no-trade clause.
- I feel really bad for the Pirates. After making a risky move by aquiring Burnett, Burnett took a foul bunt off the face. It turns out it will require surgery. Ouch! There is no timetable for a return.
As a bit of a reminder, the Spring Training games (for the Rays) start tomorrow. I hope you are as excited as I am!