There is an interesting backstory to the reduction of OF Jonny Gomes' suspension from two games to one, and Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times has it covered:
First, at around 4:10 p.m., the Rays were told it (the suspension being served) would be Friday. Forty minutes later, they were told it was changed to Sunday. Then an hour later it was back to Friday. Making it more confusing, the info was coming in media advisories sent to Rays communications director Chris Costello rather than direct word from MLB to Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman.
"I was just none too pleased with the process and the communication," Friedman said. "It doesn't much matter to us when it is and whatever else, it was just the process seemed a bit confusing."
Apparently, representatives of the MLBPA had bargained the reduction of Gomes' suspension, as well as the suspensions of Yankee OFs Melky Cabrera and Shelley Duncan, in a "secret deal" before their appellate hearings were to be held on Monday. Gomes was angling to serve the suspension on Sunday, rather than today, because he was scheduled to be in the starting lineup going into tonight's game and he would not have been in the lineup Sunday. MLB eventually said that Gomes had to serve the suspension last night, and he did so, but the message apparently didn't get out too well. Meanwhile:
- LHP Scott Kazmir will throw his final bullpen session this morning at the Naimoli Complex, and will move on to throwing batting practice sessions from there. He hopes to return by the end of the month.
- Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former Bucs FB Mike Alstott will throw out the first pitches at the Rays' home opener on Tuesday. Crist threw out the first pitch at the home opener last year as well.
- Apparently, Manager Joe Maddon wanted to give 3B Willy Aybar an extra day's rest for his sore left hamstring, and that is why he left him out of the lineup last night. Aybar will start this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
- Starting with the home opener, the Rays will play 17 of their 19 games at home and 34 of their next 51. The Rays have 34 games scheduled through June 1st at home; that is the most home games scheduled for any American League club through that date.
- The Rays are opening something called the "Budweiser Party Tent" in Lot 7 this season for all Prime and Weekend games, plus the home opener. Lot 7 is located to the east of the stadium in the main parking lot. It is to the south of the walkway to Gate 1.
- Rays 1B Carlos Peña will receive his AL Comeback Player of the Year Award before the home opener.
- The only player to go into the Hall of Fame as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, DE Lee Roy Selmon, will throw out the first pitch for next Friday's home game against the Baltimore Orioles.