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Dude, Where is J.P. Howell?

Earlier this week I posted about the lack of appearances by Rafael Soriano this spring. Also missing in action is the left-handed ice to Soriano's right-handed fuego; J.P. Howell. After being shut down in September 2009, we have yet to see the dude take the mound for the Rays in game action.

Honestly, this should come as no shock to anybody. We all know Howell has pitched more innings than any relief pitcher in the last two seasons. And we've studied the "wall" that he hit in early August.

While the regular position players are getting an increase in at-bats, it seems the Rays bullpen is getting a little bit of rest this spring. Lance Cormier leads the expected group in innings pitched with 4.0 this spring, but he is considered the long man in the pen so he should see more work.

In 2007, Howell worked as a starter and got 15 innings of spring work in. That number decreased to 10 innings as a reliever in 2008 and six innings in 2009 (Howell left camp early to compete in the WBC). The Rays know what they are getting with Howell so there is no need waste meaningless innings in March when those innings can be had in September.

Although this spring has seen rather cool weather, we've yet to feel the chill of the Iceman.