Nathan Karns made his starting debut in a Rays jersey yesterday afternoon, going three-and-a-third with one walk and one strikeout in his first start of Spring Training. He hit 92-94 mph with his fastball, and used a nasty curveball to strikout Colby Rasmus, who said, "Made me look stupid...so I guess that's good."
Karns was happy to take the mound and pleased with his start,
"It was nice to be out there getting a feel for everything again, getting stretched out," Karns said. "I'm pretty pleased with everything and just looking forward to getting back out there."
Ben Zobrist returned from being sidelined with a stiff neck as the DH, going zero-for-two with a walk, while Jeremy Moore crushed his third home run of Spring Training over the 36-foot high batter's eye screen in center field.
Grant Balfour threw 15 pitches during an inning in a minor-league game, telling Marc Topkin that he felt strong and was happy with how it went, and Alex Cobb went four plus in a minor-league game, throwing 68 pitches, 46 for strikes, and allowing three hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
Joe Maddon's take on the day, per Joe Smith:
#Rays Maddon thought Karns got better as he went, Lowe was "really good," Lueke left fballs up. Impressed by Moore and Sands homers.— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) March 12, 2014
Jeremy Hellickson had his first throwing session since his elbow surgery yesterday, and felt good after making 25 throws from 45-60 feet. The plan is for Helly to throw every other day, with a "best-case scenario" of a return by June 1st. He was encouraged by how he felt Wednesday,
"It went really well,'' he said. "It felt like I thought. It's been feeling really good, but you never know until you actually get out there and start throwing. So it's very encouraging that it's felt as good as it has.''
"This is a big step in the process, getting out there to throw after six weeks off,'' he said. "This and the day I come back (to pitch in a game) are probably the two biggest things.''
- Razz Ball released their 2014 Minor League Preview for the Rays, noting the top ten fantasy prospects with Taylor Guerrieri, Andrew Toles (!), and Enny Romero rounding out the top three.
- ICYMI: Jonah Keri made the rounds in Florida at Spring Training, where he stopped in Port Charlotte and chatted with Andrew Friedman about service time and development with prospects, this offseason's acquisitions and the clubhouse culture that Joe Maddon has created.
- Jeff McKenney, a Tampa Bay businessman, has an autographed baseball from every single player, coach or manager who has ever donned a Devil Rays or Rays uniform. Every single one.
- MLBAM did a Reddit AM(A)A about the new defensive tracking system.
- Eno Sarris asked how many "major-league ready starting pitchers" one competitive team should field in a given year, looking at the likelihood of injuries and DL stints.
- Hardball Times provided a thorough breakdown as to how pitch location affects caught stealing percentage.
- Big League Stew got the first peek at R.B.I. Baseball's return, with MLBAM doting the new version "the best of now with the feeling of old." Full details at the blog, with a release date predicted as early April.