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Game Preview: Saturday (3/18) at Minnesota (Ft. Myers)

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RAYS (8-8) at Minnesota (11-7)
1:05; Hammond Stadium, Ft. Myers
RAYS RADIO/1250 AM

Pitching Matchup

LH Scott Kazmir

RH Kyle Lohse

Upcoming Games

Sunday-vs. Minnesota, St. Pete (McClung)

Monday-vs. Pittsburgh, St. Pete (Jackson)

Tuesday-vs. Boston, St. Pete (Hendrickson)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!

RAYS (8-8) at Minnesota (11-7)
1:05; Hammond Stadium, Ft. Myers
RAYS RADIO/1250 AM

Rays Reads

-The 11-4 Phillies continued to cruise through their Grapefruit League schedule on Friday by shutting them down in all facets of the game of baseball in walking away with a 5-2 win. The Rays, meanwhile, continue to be the most inconsistent team in the Grapefruit League, having been hovering near .500 since the start of game play, and ended up with only one player with more than one hit on Friday. Lee doubled and hit a solo home run, as well as stealing a base, in going 2 for 3. Nick Green tripled and was later driven home by Luis Ordaz for the Rays' only other run. On the mound, Casey Fossum got a little roughed up. In pitching four innings, Fossum gave up two runs, both earned, on three hits while walking two and k'ing three in four innings. He also served up a home run to ex-Ray farmhand Sal Fasano, as well as hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch. But Chad Harville deserves equal burden for bad pitching performances, having given up three runs, all earned, over four hits in just one inning that pretty much sealed the game for Philadelphia. Jason Hammel pitched two good innings, and Wayne Franklin pitched one rough one, but neither allowed a run to cross the plate. The crowd in Clearwater was 7,559, and luckily none of it disturbed my afternoon commute.

-Japanese import and bullpen hopeful Shinji Mori threw a bullpen session on Friday, and will pitch in minor league games on Monday and Wednesday in his return from "shoulder stiffness". If all goes well, you could see him in a Rays uniform on the major league field by the end of next week. Mori said he felt about "80 percent" in his return, and besides the usual crap of "I'm not gonna go unless I feel 100%" (man, that translates real well, eh?) you couldn't really garner much from what he said. Mori entered camp with a real shot at the closer job, but will instead just be fighting for a spot on the team when he returns.

Short Hops-Said Casey Fossum of his outing Friday: "My fastball command was a little off, but the breaking balls were probably the sharpest they've been all spring", yeah, that kind of doesn't do you much good when you lay those "breaking balls" out in the middle of the plate...Jorge Cantu should return to the team shortly, maybe even as early as Sunday, but manager Joe Maddon said he would most certainly not be in the lineup for today's game, but Sunday's game is still a possibility.

Pitching Matchup

LH Scott Kazmir

RH Kyle Lohse

Breakdown

Well, it looks like the reliever probables have stopped, unless Frode somehow comes up with them in the next hour and a half, so I am pretty confident I am giving you all I know. Going to the mound for the Rays is southpaw Scott Kazmir, who had pitched well this spring before being roughed up in Monday's game against the Indians in Winter Haven. He makes a return trip to the mound today to face the Twins. Minnesota sends RHP Kyle Lohse to the mound to square off against the Rays.

Upcoming Games

Sunday-vs. Minnesota, St. Pete (McClung)

Monday-vs. Pittsburgh, St. Pete (Jackson)

Tuesday-vs. Boston, St. Pete (Hendrickson)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!