Look, it was exciting when Spring Training first arrived. We hadn't had any sort of baseball action in quite some time, so like every year, the beginning of spring training was a breath of fresh air. Ah, actual baseballs being thrown on the field! Look at the blue skies and green grass! Baseball is a friendly reminder that spring is right around the corner -- new beginnings, rejuvenation, warm weather, it's all there.
But now, we've officially hit the later end of March, and I'm beginning to gear up for the regular season. The Rays haven't exactly been putting on a show this spring -- they're 4-10, tied for last place in the AL -- and while that doesn't matter one lick for the regular season, it's giving me even less reason to tune into the games. The Rays' season opener is two and a half weeks away, and the MLB season opener is a little over a week away. We're so close I can almost taste it....but we're not quite there yet.
As spring training begins to wind down -- and even more players get cut from major league camp -- there are a couple final details to be announced. Who will be moving to the bullpen, Davis or Niemann, and who will open the season as the Rays starting shortstop? Marc Topkin has an article touching upon both these races, although it seems like Maddon is playing his cards close to the chest.
There's still time before spring training ends, so in the meantime, we'll have to content ourselves waiting for these final few races to be decided. (And, hopefully, waiting to see if any other extensions get announced.) It's not quite the same as watching meaningful games, but hey, we're getting closer every day.
- Luke Scott bunted against a shift this weekend? Awesome. Can anyone convince Pena to do the same now? It's not a bad idea to do it every now and then, just to put some doubt into teams' minds. If this sort of move keeps teams from shifting on Scott, that's a huge positive.
- There's a fun profile on Jake McGee in the Tampa Bay Times today, and it sounds like he's in a good place both mentally and physically to start the season. Maybe this is the year he breaks out?
- The folks over at Rays Digest recently interviewed Dirk Hayhurst, talking with him about his new book and his plans to play in Italy. I haven't read the book yet, but I've heard plenty of good reviews.
- In general baseball news, Andy Pettitte has come out of retirement to sign a minor league deal with the Yankees. He'll take things slow in order to get back into game-ready shape, but then he should be able to fill in as a #5 starter over the later half of the season. Who knows how effective he'll be after taking a year off, but considering how good he was back in 2010, I'm not about to bet against him.