Gameday report; Rays vs. Pirates
Update 10:00 a.m. Manager Joe Maddon said he anticipates the Rays could get a deal done with INF Hank Blalock "relatively soon."
Update 9:22 a.m. OF Desmond Jennings said he's looking forward to his first spring start today, and that he's feeling no lingering effects from getting hit in the left elbow with a pitch last week.
Jennings said he's decided to use a protective guard on his left elbow, though, a smaller version of what he used last year in the minors. He's also on the travel squad for tommorrow's game in Sarasota (as is RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who is scheduled to make his second spring outing).
Some other Rays tid-bits:
*INF Willy Aybar said his left wrist is feeling better, and he plans to hit soft toss today.
*RHP closer Rafael Soriano will throw another bullpen session today, and said he'll throw to live hitters Thursday and Sunday, with the plans for him to make his Rays debut next week.
*LHP Jake McGee, who has looked good in two spring outings, said things are going "better than expected." He said pitching without any restrictions (coming off Tommy John surgery) gives him some confidence, and some mechanical adjustments have given him better control.
*Still no sign - or official word - on whether INF Hank Blalock has agreed to a minor league deal.
Update 8:34 a.m. Word from the Pirates is that ex-Ray 2B Akinori Iwamura won't be part of Pittsburgh's split-squad that is making the trip to Port Charlotte.
Developing: Should be a really nice day here in Port Charlotte - with the forecast for weather in the 70s - as the Rays will host the Pirates.
This will likely be the return of ex-Rays 2B Akinori Iwamura, who is getting used to his new home with the Pirates. There could also be some news on whether the Rays will have a new player, with INF Hank Blalock appearing close to signing a minor league deal.
Touted OF prospect Desmond Jennings will make his first spring start (in rightfield) today, with several Rays regulars in the lineup - Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, and Ben Zobrist in the cleanup spot.
Here is the Rays lineup posted this morning in the clubhouse: