According to the beat reporters, Kevin Kiermaier has been officially named the starting center fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays, with Desmond Jennings assuming the majority of his playing time in left field.
"I'm very, very excited about that," Kiermaier said. "That's where I feel like I can help the team out the best." [TBT]
Kevin Cash explained to reporters that he felt the combination will remind us at home to the glory days of Crawford and Upton, and it's hard not to wish for that again.
"That was a pretty good tandem in that outfield, so I think there's probably comparisons," Cash said. "I don't know if they're fair, but that would be quite the outfield to have covering ground out there." [TBO]
For the Rays' part, this was an expected outcome given player preferences and the arm of Kiermaier. If you read the tea leaves, you might have thought KK was headed for a star role even sooner, having been featured in several Rays promotions, including ticket sales advertisements and a bobble head for early purchases, as well as other local advertisements for the YMCA. He certainly has the good face.
KK might be given a rest against more difficult left handed pitchers, and if that does happen Jennings is expected to move back into center, but the job is Kiermaier's -- and has been for a week, the Rays apparently made this decision in the first week of Spring Training.
- Much like last season when he picked up Cobb's split-change, Jake Odorizzi is apparently working on another new pitch this Spring, telling reporter's he has a cutter-slider hybrid in the works (What would you call that, a "slutter"?). He allowed six base runners in yesterday's start and fell behind often in the count trying out the pitch.
- Kevin Cash said after yesterday's game that Richie Shaffer's "cannon" for an arm, and the hustle of Hak Ju Lee to turn "one of the best plays I think I've ever seen" to nail the runner at home in the first inning after tracking down a would-be bloop single to left field, were his stand out moments. Lee also belted a homerun late in the game.
- Grant Balfour's flight is booked for Saturday to return to the States.
- The Rays signed Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) to the two-year minor league deal a few years ago and rehabbed him into bullpen shape. Yesterday they signed Jonny Venters to the same sort of deal. In a de facto way, they played the same game with Jordan Norberto.
Norberto signed with the Rays after a 2013 Tommy John surgery and the club rehabbed him back into shape... until bone spurs got in the way, and another surgery was required. Norberto re-upped with the team this Spring and is looking to fight his way into what could be a few open bullpen slots in April. Neil Solondz has his story.
- Alex Cobb starts today's game, with Norberto, Frieri, Jepsen, Yates, Gomes, and CJR in support. Chris Archer has been confirmed for tomorrow's televised game on Sun Sports.
- The City of St. Petersburg has decided to build a new baseball stadium... an 1,800 seat stadium to take the place of Al Lang's waterfront stadium, which has been converted to full time use by the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the rather successful tier-2 soccer franchise. The new stadium will be built at the Walter Fuller baseball complex.
- The fiance of Kirby Yates has launched her babysitting career from a few players in Rays camp to a full fledged business, operating in multiple states. It's called Home Run Sitters, and caters to the lives of baseball players. Ashlee Rowe, Yates's fiance, got her start baby sitting for the Longoria and DeJesus kids and has the ringing endorsement of Longo's fiance Jaime Edmondson.
- ICYMI, Jonathan Judge has developed context-FIP (cFIP) that appears to be more predictive than SIERA!
- Look, Old baseball photos!
- Will Farrell will play all nine positions across multiple spring training games to raise money with HBO, travelling between stadiums via helicopter.
- Finally, it's a happy 100th to Clearwarer this weekend, and the Rays will commemorate with this patch: