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Game Preview: Wednesday (3/8) at Philadelphia (Clearwater)

RAYS (3-3) at Philadelphia (5-1)
1:05; Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater
NO TV/RADIO

Pitching Matchup

LH Scott Kazmir, RH Justin Miller, LH Chris Seddon, RH Ruddy Lugo, LH Wayne Franklin, RH Tony Peguero

RH Jon Lieber

The Bottom Line

With Rocco doing decently yesterday in his first spring game, the Rays will likely try to ease him further in. He showed no ill effects from his injury, and even got a little dirty in legging out a two base hit and a stolen base. So I wouldn't be surprised if he sat today to get him rested up, in which case you can be assured he won't make the trip to Clearwater. On the rubber, Chris Seddon and Scott Kazmir, the only two pitchers of worth to watch, each make their second spring game appearance, and you'd better get an eye on Seddon quick, because you never know when he will be sent to minor league camp. Furthermore, I hope this game ends early today. The last time the Phillies had a spring game at home was last Friday against New York, and the game ended late, causing major traffic issues on top of the normal ones at U.S. 19/Drew St., and it caused be to be late getting home from school. Granted, the Rays aren't New York, but any added traffic to that corridor is a pain in the rear.

Question of the Day

Will Kazmir, the virtual lock for the opening day job, get the official nod as the Number one if he makes a good start today? Further, who will play for the Rays in the field, and what will they be able to do offensively in spacious BHN Field? How will Chris Seddon do against major league hitting?

Upcoming Games

Thursday-vs. Braves in St. Pete (McClung)
Friday-vs. Blue Jays in St. Pete (Jackson)
Saturday-vs. Indians in St. Pete (Waechter)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!

RAYS (3-3) at Philadelphia (5-1)
1:05; Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater
NO TV/RADIO

Rays Reads

-The Phillies continued to roll on in this exhibition season, winning for the fifth time in six games yesterday by beating the Rays at Al Lang Field. The Phils jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but the Rays quickly fought back, taking a 3-2 lead into the top of the seventh before the Rays surrendered three runs that inning to key a loss. Rocco Baldelli made his spring debut in the DH slot, and had a great game, going 2 for 3 with a run scored and a double. Damon Hollins also had a good game, going 2 for 2 with a runs scored, a double, and two RBI. Hollins and Baldelli also both stole one base. Among the Rays' 0 fers were Joey Gahtright, Carl Crawford, Toby Hall, Sean Burroughs, B.J Upton, and Nick Green. Among the players impressive in other facets was, once again, Elijah Dukes. He went 1 for 2 at the plate, but also gunned down speedy Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins at the plate to enact damage control.

The pitching side of the team was equally mediocre. Jason Hammel, making the start in his bid for a job in place of Casey Fossum, which we will discuss later, went three innings, giving up two runs on two hits while walking one and striking out two. He also served up a Ryan Howard gopher ball, joinin', oh, almost every other pitcher who has ever faced him. In to finish the day were several hopeless non-roster invitees who have no shot at making the roster, including Jason Childers, Juan Salas, Jack Cressend (who gave up all three earned runs in the disastrous seventh), and then the two players with an outside shot of making it, Mark Malaska and Shawn Camp, wrapped up nicely after the Cressend mess. Meanwhile at least not too many people had to endure this loss, as 2,313 showed up on a 70 degree day.

-So why in fact was Casey Fossum not starting? What do you get when you mix a pool/hot tub, a broken tile, and a professional athlete. As we know all too well from past incidents, nothing good. Fossum was climbing into his pool from his hot tub at his Bradenton home Monday night when, oops....the tile cracked, leaving a three inch cut (ouch) on the bottom of his leg, which was superglued shot (ouch). He will begin throwing tomorrow, but missed his scheduled start today.

-The son, grandson, and great-grandson of the late Al Lopez were chosen to throw out the first pitch at next month's home opener against the Baltimore Orioles. Lopez, who died in November at the age of 97, was baseball's oldest living hall of famer, and a great manager in many years with the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians. He took both teams to pennants that they would not see for another 46 and 41 years, respectively, after he left. Previous opening day first pitches have been throw out by Al Lopez, Stan Musial, and Monte Irvin in 1998, the late Larry Doby in 1999, Wade Boggs in 2000, former St. Pete mayor David Fischer in 2001, former CENTCOM Gen. Tommy Franks in 2002, Rich McKay and Jon Gruden in 2003, boxing champ Winky Wright in 2004, and IRL racer Michael Andretti last year.

-Dan Feinstien was named Director of Baseball Operations by the Devil Rays today. The press release says he will "assist Friedman and Gerry Hunsicker in all facets of the department". Well, there's a good load of useless information to go by. Feinstien joins the Rays from the LA Dodgers organization where he served as "Coordinator of Baseball Operations". Man, is he movin' on up or what? and before that, the 33 year old served in various positions with the Oakland A's.

Short Hops-Minor League Camp begins over at the Stu Sternberg complex tomorrow, with 160 players due to show up, and exhibition games start on the 15th...Rays skipper Joe Maddon will make his first cuts of the spring in about one week, which is later than Lou did last year if my memory serves me correctly.

Pitching Matchup

LH Scott Kazmir, RH Justin Miller, LH Chris Seddon, RH Ruddy Lugo, LH Wayne Franklin, RH Tony Peguero

RH Jon Lieber

Breakdown

Before I get started on today's pitching matchup, I want to make a brief rant on the Phillies' website. At the top, I noticed that like a lot of teams, they put their slogan for the year. Well, they put theirs, and it's 'Red Means Go'. Okay, before I get into how utterly stupid that name is, I want to point out that it isn't even original. The St. Louis Cardinals used the exact same slogan two years ago. Did some bunch of noobs from the front office say, 'Hey let's give the 'Ph' thing in front of every word a rest and dig something out from another team's trash can'? Or was this part of the Scott Rolen trade of a few years ago. Whatever the case may be, it is a stupid slogan and is, even worse, reeking of unoriginality. May I suggest "Let's Play, It's a (insert city/area name here) Thing"?

Anyways, the pregame notes were updates today to include the probable relief pitchers, so unless someone gets a three inch cut getting out of a bathtub, we should see these pitchers take the mound in Clearwater today. Like yesterday and Sunday, today's probable pitchers are mostly a bunch of non-roster invitees there to eat up meaningless spring innings. Scott Kazmir, of course, isn't, and with a good start, we may see an official announcement of him as the opening day starter in the next few days. He should still probably only go 2-3 innings, but the only other pitcher even worth taking a glance at tomorrow is #14 prospect Chris Seddon. He is the third scheduled pitcher. The rest aren't worth any player evaluation time. The Phillies, meanwhile, send former Yankee and Cub Jon Lieber to the mound to start off the game. No other probables were announced.

The Bottom Line

With Rocco doing decently yesterday in his first spring game, the Rays will likely try to ease him further in. He showed no ill effects from his injury, and even got a little dirty in legging out a two base hit and a stolen base. So I wouldn't be surprised if he sat today to get him rested up, in which case you can be assured he won't make the trip to Clearwater. On the rubber, Chris Seddon and Scott Kazmir, the only two pitchers of worth to watch, each make their second spring game appearance, and you'd better get an eye on Seddon quick, because you never know when he will be sent to minor league camp. Furthermore, I hope this game ends early today. The last time the Phillies had a spring game at home was last Friday against New York, and the game ended late, causing major traffic issues on top of the normal ones at U.S. 19/Drew St., and it caused be to be late getting home from school. Granted, the Rays aren't New York, but any added traffic to that corridor is a pain in the rear.

Question of the Day

Will Kazmir, the virtual lock for the opening day job, get the official nod as the Number one if he makes a good start today? Further, who will play for the Rays in the field, and what will they be able to do offensively in spacious BHN Field? How will Chris Seddon do against major league hitting?

Upcoming Games

Thursday-vs. Braves in St. Pete (McClung)
Friday-vs. Blue Jays in St. Pete (Jackson)
Saturday-vs. Indians in St. Pete (Waechter)

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!