Live from Port Charlotte, Day 10
UPDATE, 2:49: Rays will go back to doing work on fundamentals during the season, manager Joe Maddon said, with plans for extra work once or twice a homestand. That's how they did it in 2008, then not as much in 2009. Why the switch back? "Because we just weren't as good last year,'' Maddon said. "And I want to be as good as we were two years ago. So you reflect upon it and try to figure out what did we do differently last year, and that's my fault that we didn't do that last year. It was my idea to do it the year before, and I didn't really process it well enough. So we've got to get back to that.''
Also, Maddon said the Rays are holding LHP J.P. Howell back a little bit this spring in an effort to keep him strong for the full season. Hwoell has thrown off the mound once, and is scheduled to do so again on Monday. "We just wanted to take it more slowly with him right now as we move him forward, just more than anything based on the body of work over the last two years and I want to make sure that he's strong at the end of the season,'' Maddon said. "We just wanted to put the brakes on him a little bit. He's champing at the bit and ready to roll."
These are the pitchers for Tuesday's 3 1/2 inning intrasquad game, though the order is not yet set: Joe Bateman, Jeff Bennett, Randy Choate, Mike Ekstrom, Jeremy Hellickson, Carlos Hernandez and Heath Rollins. The teams will be managed by Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo and bullpen coach Scott Cursi.
UPDATE, 12:49: The players are still on the field, having spent a lot of time on pickoffs and rundowns during the workout before hitting. Here are a few more opposing pitchers for the first week of exhibition play: the Yankees will start either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain on March 5, the Red Sox Felix Doubront on March 6, the Phillies J.A. Happ on March 7.
UPDATE, 9:44: The Orioles starter for Wednesday's exhibition opener will be Jeremy Guthrie.
DEVELOPING: he weather is much better today as the Rays prep for what really is the last long full day of drills of the spring. Monday will be an abbreviated workout due to the annual charity golf event, Tuesday will feature an intrasquad game and Wednesday is the exhibition opener.
Most of the big-name pitchers will be throwing batting practice today starting at around 11:15.
There will be lots of Rays talk across all of the ESPN platforms today as Tim Kurkjian and the Grapefruit Express Tour makes its way to Port Charlotte.