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Game Preview: Monday (3/27) at Boston (Ft. Myers)

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RAYS (11-12) at Boston (7-16)
1:05; City of Palms Park, Ft. Myers
NO TV/RADIO

Pitching Matchup

LH Casey Fossum

LH David Wells

Upcoming Games

Tuesday-at Pittsburgh in Bradenton (Kazmir)

Wednesday-at Cincinnati in Sarasota (McClung)

Thursday-at New York Yankees in Tampa (Jackson)

7 Days to Opening Day

14 Days to the Home Opener

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RAYS (11-12) at Boston (7-16)
1:05; City of Palms Park, Ft. Myers
NO TV/RADIO

Rays 7, Minnesota 5

Ft. Myers-The Rays closed out their Grapefruit League series with the Minnesota Twins in good fashion yesterday, beating the Twinkies 7-5 in Ft. Myers. The good guys played their starters for the entire game as most racked up four or five at bats in the win. Nick Green and Ty Wigginton were the only Rays not to get aboard on hits. Darnell McDonald "stole" the show yesterday, going 3 for 4 with a double, and a run scored and driven in. Jorge Cantu, Aubrey Huff, and Greg Norton all had two hits, while Josh Paul, Travis Lee, and Norton doubled. Cantu also had a three-bagger in the effort. On the other side, two former Rays got into the action, Jason Pridie as a defensive replacement, while Jason Tyner started the game and went 2 for 2.

On the rubber, lefty Mark Hendrickson went a shaky six innings, giving up five hits and three runs (two earned) on two walks and two strikeouts. He also commited a balk. Chad Orvella got the win despite yet another crappy outing, giving up two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks in just one inning of work. It is unclear where he fits into the bullpen puzzle after yet another bad outing. Travis Harper and Justin Miller each pitched a scoreless inning to mop up the win in front of 7,758 strong on a sunny day in Ft. Myers.

Rays Reads

-I was flipping through the Rays' press releases of the past week, one about them donating a rock wall, one about the picnic at the Trop on the 3rd, yadda yadda yadda, but then I saw one about sponsership for the 2006 season. The Rays announced several new corporate friendships for the 2006 season, including Metro PCS, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Cay Clubs Resorts & Marinas, Sanyo, Southeast Toyota Dealers, Bryant Heating & Cooling and Barry Motor Sports. They also extended previous agreements with Anheuser-Busch, Brighthouse Networks/Bay News 9, Florida Lottery, GTE Federal Credit Union, Achieva Credit Union, Majestic Athletic, Verizon Yellow Pages, Papa Johns Pizza, Subway, JMC Communities, NAPA, and Trane Air Conditioning. Kind of odd that they extended their agreement with Trane, considering they signed Bryant to a deal, and they are competitors. Among the sponsers not returning are Medical Hair Restoration, Outback Steakhouse, Dukes Mayonnaise and Bidville.com. Oh well, looks like no more 'Just for Men' ads on the Rays TV Network, or online auctions hosted at the Trop. The interesting one, however, is the departure of Outback Steakhouse from the sponsership ranks. Besides being a key sponser and an orginal one dating back to the start of the franchise, their owners used to hold a stake in the team that was bought out by Stu Sternberg when he purchased the team. Now I wonder what the Rays will find to replace the good, good food of the Outback stand on the third base concourse?

Short Hops-The Rays will play their next five Grapefruit League games on the road while the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg takes over the waterfront near Al Lang...The Rays' win yesterday broke their first three game losing streak of the spring...The Rays finished 4-9-1 at Al Lang...The Rays are 7-3 on the road this spring...The Rays were able to shoehorn in 6,727 to Al Lang for Saturday's game, a new Al Lang record, and one that ensured a record spring average attendance of 4,616 (64,617 total)...bench coach Bill Evers remains in the hospital after surgery to remove a benign tumor from his colon, and according to manager Joe Maddon, he could get out of the hospital as soon as tomorrow...The Times reports that talks with the Marlins and other teams continue about outfielder Joey Gathright, and that the Rays are becoming less focued on Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen than they are on another Marlins pitcher, Ricky Nolasco, acquired by Florida in the Jaun Pierre deal...Carlos Pena, designated for assignment by Detroit yesterday, may receive interest from the Rays...Righty Doug Waechter threw 7.1 innings in an intrasquad game over at the complex yesterday, giving up a lone run on eight hits in 92 pitches, walking one and k'ing two...Reliever Shawn Camp also hurled two innings in that game...The Rays are trying to get reliever Chad Orvella to quicken his delivery this spring, and the result of the attempts has been clear thus far in the box score, he has also tinkered a little with his mechanics...Normally infielders, Ty Wigginton and Luis Ordaz played the outfield in some of Sunday's game...Infielders Sean Burroguhs and Russell Branyan were not on the travel roster to Ft. Myers, as they continue to nurse their respective injuries, and SS Julio Lugo took another day to rest his sore groin...The Rays were playing two straight days in Ft. Myers, so they must have stayed there overnight, right? WRONG! The team drove all the way back to St. Pete to get a new rotation of players into today's game, the gas guzzlers.

Pitching Matchup

LH Casey Fossum

LH David Wells

Breakdown

-The Rays send Casey Fossum to the mound today in Ft. Myers to square off against Red Sox lefty David Wells in an all-southpaw showdown. Fossum makes his fourth start of the spring today, simply to get him in gear for the regular season as he has already assured himself of a roster spot. He has increased his innings pitched in his previous starts by one inning each time, and he can be expected to go 5-6 innings today. He has been one of the Rays' more impressive pitchers this spring, having given up only two earned runs in nine innings, while striking out nine to four walks. He should get a good test today from one of the AL's better lineups from Boston, as they play their starters in the stretch run to the regular season.

Upcoming Games

Tuesday-at Pittsburgh in Bradenton (Kazmir)

Wednesday-at Cincinnati in Sarasota (McClung)

Thursday-at New York Yankees in Tampa (Jackson)

7 Days to Opening Day

14 Days to the Home Opener

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Information from the St. Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune was used in this report.