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Rays Lose 9-6 to Tigers as Niemann, Rodriguez Impress

The Rays lost again today, but don't take it too hard; the Rays had good performances from their major league players, with the majority of the damage coming late in the game against pitchers Mike Ekstrom and Joe Bateman.  Jeff Niemann pitched very well, striking out six over 3.2 innings and only allowing one run on three hits.  A short outing, but a positive one nonetheless.

On the offensive side, John Jaso, Justin Ruggiano, and Sean Rodriguez all homered.  Rodriguez continues to put on an impressive showing this spring, making it tougher and tougher for Maddon to keep him from starting the season with the big-league club.  As for Ruggiano, is this offensive surge (three spring home runs and a .478 BA) merely the result of a small-sample size or has Jaime Cevallos worked his magic again?  Only time will tell, but I'm very excited to follow Ruggiano's season this year.  If he keeps this up, he may work his way into the Rays' 2011 plans.  At the very least, he could increase his trade value and hopefully net the Rays some younger prospects.