Jason Bartlett stole the show today, going 3-4 with two home runs and a stolen base. After hitting all solo home runs last year, Batlett continued in that vein, hitting both home runs with none on and two outs. It seems that the more data we get, the more support there is for RZ's hypothesis that Bartlett changes his batting approach based on the game situation. It will be interesting to see if Bartlett's solo home run streak continues into the season and if this approach will make his home run total less likely to regress.
The Rays had a good showing from all their pitchers today, led by a 5 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 3 K performance by Jeff Niemann. The hit total is a bit high, but I'm not paying much attention to hit totals this spring. When evaluating pitchers, the statistics that stabilize quickest are their grounder, line drive, and strikeout rates. Those are the numbers I'm looking at, but even those don't stabilize until about 100 plate appearances and can be a toss-up in spring training. While we don't have line drive numbers, Niemann had a 4:8 groundball to flyball ratio today which isn't great but he's done better in other recent outings. Soriano, Thayer, and Choate all pitched well today, with Thayer putting up the best performance by striking out three over two innings.
In other news, Justin Ruggiano and 10 others got demoted to minor league camp today (h/t Bobr). The full list includes Dan Johnson (who needs to clear waivers first), Winston Abreu, Joe Bateman, Jeff Bennett, Richard de los Santos, Carlos Hernandez, Heath Phillips, Angel Chavez, J.J. Furmaniak, and Ryan Shealy. While it was unrealistic to expect Ruggiano to make the team even with his massive spring performance, it will be exciting to see how he performs this season. Judging from what he's saying, at least he's got his head in the right place:
"Regardless of whether I knew it was going to happen or not I’m just disappointed. But at the same time it’s not going to be something like I took last year where I was disappointed and I let it show in my play. I’m going to take off a day or two and clear my mind, but I want to take the same energy and same attitude that I had here down to Triple-A even though it’s a totally different atmosphere and more of a mental grind. But I’m going to take the same aggressive attitude." (per Marc Topkin)