First day in the books
Year two of the Joe Maddon era officially opened today with the Rays' first full-squad workout at the Naimoli Complex.
There were plenty of highlights: Jonny Gomes' return, Casey Fossum's bullpen session and Elijah Dukes' batting practice show. But without a doubt, all eyes were on new Rays third baseman Akinori Iwamura.
With about 50 media members -- including some 30 Japanese reporters -- looking on, Iwamura participated in his first major league workout. It seemed like Aki had some trouble reading some of the plays (With a runner on first, he didn't understand when catcher Dioner Navarro called "One!" and he threw to second for a force), but he showed a solid glove and quick bat speed.
Left hander Casey Fossum threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session and said afterward that his surgically repaired left shoulder feels good. A leaner Jonny Gomes looks to have his swing back after shoulder surgery.
And then there was Elijah Dukes, who put four balls over the left-field wall on Field 3 in batting practice, hitting a couple of trees along 80th Street.
For more on Iwamura's debut and Gomes' return, check out Friday's Times