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Jason Hammel's Mediocre Day, Troy Percival Remains Perfect.

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The Rays showed their hand a bit in their pitching schedule this week. Jason Hammel took the fifth spot amongst the regular four starters with Jeff Niemann working out of the bullpen. This leads many to believe that he is the favorite for the job; however he didn't really help his cause today. Hammel started the game by walking Willy Tavares which is never a good sign. He gave up three runs in the first two innings including a home run to Edwin Encarnacion. The good news is he seemed to settle down after that and worked two scoreless innings to finish out his day.

Tampa Bay

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

ERA

Hammel

4.0

5

3

3

1

1

1

3.94

Overall, Hammel now has 16 innings pitched and has still displayed good control. He has 12 strikeouts and just three walks. On the flip side he has give up 17 hits in those 16 innings. This is why it's hard to base this competition strictly on numbers. The key for Hammel is strike throwing and it seems at the very least he's improved in that category. 

Ho-hum, another perfect inning for Troy Percival. Percival has retired all nine of his hitters this spring and according to some reports has hit 93 on the radar gun. This is good news for the Rays, who are stuck with Percy and his $4 million dollar salary regardless.

I really have to try to temper my excitement because of the date on the calendar, but I'm having a hard time doing so when it comes it Reid Brignac. The Cajun God of Baseball(or reasoned argument around here) hit another home-run today, his third of the spring. Overall, his spring numbers are about as impressive as his 2008 numbers, but the fact that his bat is showing signs of life is very encouraging to me.

Img_0288_medium

In more encouraging news, both Dan Wheeler and Joe Nelson worked perfect innings. This means they did not allow a hit, walk or more importantly a HOME RUN. Nelson even recorded a strike out.  Processes and results, processes and results. Showing more of those results was Grant Balfour. Balfour has been working on a hard curveball or a slider or a slurve; basically a pitch that bends this spring. Today, he, like Nelson, Percival and Wheeler, worked a perfect inning and got two punchouts. One of the STFD victims was Jonny Gomes. Lance Cormier pitched a scoreless 9th inning, but gave up a hit thus ending the bullpens perfect day.

In the minor league game, Matt Joyce went 1-2 with a walk. He played three innings in the outfield. No word on how many innings B.J. Upton played.