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Rays News & Notes for Friday, May 19th

RAYS 5, Florida 4 (10)

About Last Night...
DevilRays.com
The Tampa Tribune

3 Up
3B Aubrey Huff: 2-4, solo HR (1), 2 RBI (6,7), BB, 2B (2),
C Toby Hall: 2-4, 2 RS, solo HR (5), RBI (14), 2B (8)
RP Tyler Walker, W (1-3): 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K

3 Down
RP Travis Harper, H (3): 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (ER), 1 BB, 1 K
1B Travis Lee: 1-4, 2 K, GIDP, 4 LOB
RF-CF Damon Hollins: 1-4, E  

Extra, Extra, Read All About It

An Excellent Story on Bill Evers [The St. Petersburg Times]
Could Aubrey Huff be going to the Dodgers? [SI.com]
Casey Fossum suffered a groin strain during Friday's game [MLB.com]
Tribune Notes Column [The Tampa Tribune]
Faces on the Field: Andy Sonnanstine [MiLB.com]

Down on the Farm

AAA Durham-L, 0-5:
CF Darnell McDonald: 3-3, BB, CS (6)
SS B.J. Upton: 1-4, K, 2 GIDB, CS (7)
RF Elijah Dukes: 1-3, BB

AA Montgomery-L, 1-5:
2B Elliot Johnson: 0-4, 3 K
C Ryan Christianson: 1-4, solo HR (10), RBI (22)

A+ Visalia-W, 14-8:
SS Reid Brignac: 3-6, 2 RS, 2B (11), 3 run HR (8), 4 RBI (33,34,35,36), E (15,throwing)
C Josh Arhart: 3-6, 2 RS, 2B (4), RBI (13), K
LF Patrick Breen: 3-5, RS, 2 RBI (28,29), K
2B Jason St. Clair: 3-4, 3 RS, RBI (4), SB (1), HB
SP Chris Mason: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R (6 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 3 HR, HB, E (1, pickoff)

A- Southwest Michigan-W, 4-2:
CF Garrett Groce: 2-4, 2 RS, 2B (11), K
SP Mike Wlodarczyk, W (5-1): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 IBB, 4 K

Coming Tomorrow
-Who's Hot, Who's Not; May 19th edition
-Game Preview; Saturday (5/20) vs Florida
-Rays News & Notes for Saturday, May 20th
-AL East Week in Review for May 14th to May 20th

RAYS 5, Florida 4 (10)
Toby Hall homered in the ninth to get Tampa Bay to extra innings and Aubrey Huff's solo shot in the 10th lifted the Devil Rays over Florida.

The Devil Rays ended a seven-game losing streak in an intrastate rivalry that's never really taken off with fans in the Sunshine State. Attendance at Tropicana Field was announced as 10,017 - lowest ever for a home game against the Marlins.

Hall led off the ninth with a first-pitch homer off Joe Borowski.

Huff, who has struggled at the plate since coming off the disabled list with a sprained knee, hit his first of the season off Yusmeiro Petit (0-1).

Tyler Walker (1-2) pitched one inning to get the win, Tampa Bay's first in 21 tries when trailing after eighth innings.


[Associated Press via SI.com]

Game Reports
DevilRays.com
The Tampa Tribune

-Aubrey Huff did something useful for once, the offense clicked again, and the Rays snapped a seven game losing streak to the Marlins with a 5-4 win in 10 innings. Now, I have ragged on Aubrey Huff for a few days now. I have even ranted about how he shouldn't be in the cleanup role as recently as yesterday. And I still feel that way. Remember, he is still batting  .145/.259/.246 on the year. And also remember that Greg Vaughn hit two home runs in two straight days during his 2002 season, but still finished the year with a .601 OPS. Alas, I will stop reverting to reality and let Aubrey have his moment in the sun. By all means, I do want him to succeed....so we can trade him without quarreling of whether the peanuts we get will be salted or unsalted, you know how much of a deal-breaker that can be. Although I will admit, I was surprsied to find out that Aubrey picked up his third RBI in five games with that first inning double.

But the entire offense as a whole actually had a good night, as the team pounded out 10 hits and every Rays player with four or more at bats tonight saw their hitting streaks extended to at least one. And don't overlook Toby Hall in all of this, he had two hits as well, both of them going for extra bases (2B, HR), as his OPS climbed within four points of .800. However he also struck out for the fourth consecutive game, a rarity for him.

On the rubber, Casey Fossum has another decent start going before pulling his groin (ouch) in the fourth, after which he did not return, more on that later. His departure before the sixth inning snapped a 12 game streak in which ever Rays starter went six or more innings. Brian Meadows and Shawn Camp each pitched two scoreless innings and Tyler Walker locked down the Marlin hitters in the ninth to earn his first win of the year. Meadows' scoreless two inning stint was just the second time he's had a scoreless outing of more than one inning this season. And just to illustrate how useless counting stats are, look at the following stat lines, and guess which one got a blown save, and which got a hold....

RP Travis Harper: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (ER), 1 BB, 1 K  

RP Shawn Camp: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K

The answer? Camp was punished with a save for allowing Harper's mess to score, while Harper got a hold. Useless, useless statistics.

On the Marlins side of things, Brian Moeheler avoiding scuffing the ball (or at least getting caught) in going seven solid innings for the Fish, while former Ray Joe Borowski took a blown save, and this one was actually deserved, by giving up Toby Hall's solo home run to lead off the ninth. Marlins prospect Yusmerio Petit, who was on the verge of being dealt to the Rays at last year's deadline, took the loss after giving up Huff's walkoff home run. In the Marlins' lineup, only Miguel Cabrera (no surprise) and Robert Andino had two hits on the day, as Josh Willingham and Mike Jacobs, among others, were held hitless. Andino also stole a base and committed an error on a controversial call that eventually got Marlins manager Joe Girardi ejected, his first ejection in his major league managing career. Dan Uggla homered for his only hit of the day, and Reggie Abercrombie, Wes Helms, Joe Borchard, and Miguel Olivo all picked up hits in the losing effort.

3 Up
3B Aubrey Huff: 2-4, solo HR (1), 2 RBI (6,7), BB, 2B (2),
C Toby Hall: 2-4, 2 RS, solo HR (5), RBI (14), 2B (8)
RP Tyler Walker, W (1-3): 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K

3 Down
RP Travis Harper, H (3): 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R (ER), 1 BB, 1 K
1B Travis Lee: 1-4, 2 K, GIDP, 4 LOB
RF-CF Damon Hollins: 1-4, E

Rays Reads

Seeing as Chastain was too lazy to do a notes column today (same content level today as any other day in that piece), we turn to the Tampa Tribune for their notes column. First up, we look at a lighter piece.

Rays prospect Delmon Young, suspended 50 games for tossing a bat at an umpire in a minor-league game April 26, will begin his 50 hours of community service today.

He will serve as a coach for the team-sponsored Devil Rays wheelchair softball team in their tournament today in Tampa. Young will then conduct a clinic for the Tampa Challenger Little League for physically and mentally disabled children.

He will split his community service hours between the Tampa Bay area and Durham.

-Okay, good to see that his community service is starting, and I think that his helping out the wheelchair league is great. However, take a look at the sentence that says, and I quote "Young will then conduct a clinic for the Tampa Challenger Little League for physically and mentally disabled children." Now, does anyone else find it ironic that Young is conducting an clinic for mentally disabled children. That's like letting the patient teach the psychiatrist.

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Meanwhile, we can't conduct this piece without doing a tidbit on Rocco....

OF Rocco Baldelli is still slated to fly to Triple-A Durham on Monday to begin his rehab assignment Tuesday when the Bulls open an eight-game homestand with the first of three games against Richmond. Baldelli likely will play two more simulated games-today and Monday-before departing.

-Yeah, his flight plans may already be arranged, but until he takes an at bat at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, I'll believe nothing. For all I know he could trip and fall on a loose cord in the plane gateway and be out another three months. But I think I'll either sleep or go to the Oliver Field dedication today instead of catching the extended spring game. The dedication, at 10am by the way, will be attended by Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon, Damon Hollins, Carl Crawford, and Matt Silverman. I'll probably go there, but I'll try and see him on Monday.

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MiLB.com did a rather informative story on Andy Sonnanstine as part of their faces on the field series, and while the bulk of the article's content focused on his unique sidearm delivery, I found out something new, and useful, about Sonny that I didn't previously know.

Sonnanstine has been toying with a splitter and a changeup but has yet to get completely comfortable with either pitch. While he'd like to add both to his arsenal, the Devil Rays are attempting to limit his pitch expansion to either/or.

"I'm teetering between them now," Sonnanstine said. "When I seem to be leaning toward one, my next start the opposite pitch is dynamite. I've been trying to use both, but they seem to think I should go with just one. I would love to have both, though, because it would help me even more.

"I think I need to develop that third pitch before I can go to the next level, so this is a good spot for me. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I've seen guys get rushed and their confidence gets shaken."

-Sonnanstine with a successful splitter or changeup would be great, and his development of those pitches partially relieves my concern over his unusual three walks in a game earlier this week. The fact the the Rays are trying to get him to choose between the two disturbs me. If he wants to add both to his utility belt, and is successful throwing them, why stop him? I understand that you'd want him to focus on one, but the Double A level is pretty much his last chance to make significant changes to his arsenal. Triple A is for mere tweaking, and he would be doing this with the Bulls, who play in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in minor league baseball. No, let Sonny do it in a fair environment, let him sort out the kinks in the pitches and give him all the time he needs, there is no rush. I think it is good, actually, that Sonny realizes that he isn't going to succeed with the velocity he has, two pitches, and a quirky sidearm motion at the major league level. It is good that he is adjusting now. But memo to the DRO...LAY OFF!!!!!!

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-One of the scarier parts of Friday's game was when Casey Fossum left after four innings and 53 pitches. Now, being a Rays fan, I immediatly assumed the worst, however DevilRays.com has some good news for all of us:

Fossum said after the game that the discomfort was similar to something which occurred last season, and if everything went well, he might still be able to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday in Toronto.

He added that he would push his side throwing session back one day to give the muscle time to heal.

"[Taking him out of the game] was more precautionary than anything else, [rather] than send him out there [to go] ahead and hurt it worse and [then] is out four or six weeks," said bench coach Bill Evers.

-This is indeed good news, although I strongly encourage Fossum not to rush back. While I think his starting on schedule next time would be great, I'd much rather have one game where we have to have Travis Harper spot start, or have bullpen members pitch two or three innings each, than have Fossum re-injure himself, get placed on the DL, and be forced to rush up Jason Hammel or Edwin Jackson from Durham. That would not be good. This team already has a poor track record in rushing players back. Let's be cautious here.

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Lastly, we have a trade rumor courtesy of SI:

A Dodgers scout watched the three-game series with the Sox and Devil Rays, and the Dodgers are expected to keep a close watch on the Sox's organization for pitching help with struggling left-hander Odalis Perez on the disabled list and journeyman Aaron Sele filling in. But the Dodgers also are looking for a third baseman with Bill Mueller out with knee surgery and Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff could be available. -- Chicago Tribune

-Hmm, Huff to the Dodgers could be good, although aren't they tired of trading with us? The LA system is loaded with prospects, but at the rate which Aubrey keeps struggling, we'd be lucky to get James Loney for him, though maybe they'd throw in that bag of peanuts. But until I hear specific names dropped, there isn't that much to comment on.

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Short Hops-No kidding, this really is a good story, it isn't here to take up space. St. Pete Times columnist John Romano did a very interesting and well-deserved story on Rays interim manager and bench coach Bill Evers, who managed the first big league game in his 30 year baseball career on Friday night. Compare that with Joe Girardi, the Marlins manager in the opposing dugout, who had had exactly two years of experience in coaching before being named as the permanent manager of the Marlins last offseason.

Down on the Farm

AAA Durham-L, 0-5:
CF Darnell McDonald: 3-3, BB, CS (6)
SS B.J. Upton: 1-4, K, 2 GIDB, CS (7)
3B Sean Burroughs: 1-4
RF Elijah Dukes: 1-3, BB
LF Nick Green: 2-3
SP Brian Stokes, L (2-2): 70 pitches, 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R (ER), 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HB
RP Tim Corcoran: 28 pitches, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K
RP Jason Childers: 15 pitches, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K
RP Bart Miadich: 19 pitches, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Notes: The Durham offense managed to get shut out on eight hits...Ryan Wagner pitched for the Louisville Bats, going 1.1 near-perfect innings, surrendering only a walk while striking out one...The game attracted 10,626 to Louisville Slugger Field.

Bulls Up Next-at Charlotte, 7:15 (Jackson)

AA Montgomery-L, 1-5:
2B Elliot Johnson: 0-4, 3 K
C Ryan Christianson: 1-4, solo HR (10), RBI (22)
1B Gaby Martinez: 0-4, 2 K
SS Matt Maniscalco: 1-2, BB, CS (3), HBP
CF Jason Pridie: 1-3, 2B (4)
SP Jim Magrane, L (6-3): 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R (ER), 5 BB, 0 K, HR
RP Marcos Carvajal: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R (ER), 1 BB, 0 K

Note: The Biscuits managed just one run on three hits, with the lone run being a solo shot from Ryan Chistianson.

Biscuits Up Next-at Birmingham, 8:05 (Flinn)

A+ Visalia-W, 14-8:
CF Fernando Perez: 2-4, 2 RS, RBI (9), 2 BB, 2 K
SS Reid Brignac: 3-6, 2 RS, 2B (11), 3 run HR (8), 4 RBI (33,34,35,36), E (15,throwing)
RF Shaun Cumberland: 2-6, 2 RBI (32,33)
C Josh Arhart: 3-6, 2 RS, 2B (4), RBI (13), K
DH Chris Nowak: 2-5, 2 RS, 2 2B (11,12), RBI (22), BB, 2 K, GIDP, SB (2)
LF Patrick Breen: 3-5, RS, 2 RBI (28,29), K
2B Jason St. Clair: 3-4, 3 RS, RBI (4), SB (1), HB
SP Chris Mason: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R (6 ER), 1 BB, 4 K, 3 HR, HB, E (1, pickoff)

Notes: The Visalia offense managed to pick up 14 runs on 20 hits, both totals were well over the numbers that all other Rays affiliates put up combined...Those totals were given up by Texas Rangers pitching prospects, apparently they were preparing to be real Rangers pitchers...Seven of the nine Oaks batters had multiple hits, four had three, and every Oak player went home happy with at least one hit...20 mph winds were recorded at Sam Lynn Ballpark, and that may have contributed to a 20 minute delay when the power went out in the ballpark and the stadium lights fell dark...The Bakersfield Blaze were a Rays affiliate from 2001-04.

Oaks Up Next-at Bakersfield, 10:15 (Feldkamp)

A- Southwest Michigan-W, 4-2:
CF Garrett Groce: 2-4, 2 RS, 2B (11), K
RF J.T. Hall: 1-3, RS, 2B (8), 2 RBI (19,20)
LF Chris Cunningham: 1-3
SP Mike Wlodarczyk, W (5-1): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 IBB, 4 K

Notes: The M-Rays finally held B.J's brother Justin in check on Friday, as the younger Upton went hitless in three at bats with an intentional walk and a strikeout...Garrett Groce hit in the leadoff spot...With a scoreless seven innings today, Wlodarczyk has not allowed an earned run in 39.1 straight innings, and his ERA is down to 0.82.

M-Rays Up Next-vs Dayton, 6:35 (McGee)

Coming Tomorrow
-Who's Hot, Who's Not; May 19th edition
-Game Preview; Saturday (5/20) vs Florida
-Rays News & Notes for Saturday, May 20th
-AL East Week in Review for May 14th to May 20th