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Live from Port Charlotte, Day 12: Wet start



UPDATE 1:57 p.m. Overall, the Rays intrasquad went well, with everyone coming through healthy, and manager Joe Maddon liking the effort and intensity.

There was a lot of focus on bunt defense and baserunning (run-downs, etc).

"They were really into it again - I cant ask for anything more in regards to their focus and their effort," Maddon said. "And their energy, it's been great."

Some observations:

*Dan Johnson made a couple nice plays at third base, including a diving grab to his right on a liner by Desmond Jennings. "D.J. robbed D.J.," Maddon said.

Johnson could be interesting this spring, especially if he can prove he can play third (he already can play first, and has experience in the outfield); especially, if Willy Aybar's wrist injury takes longer to heal than expected.

*Carlos Pena looked like he got robbed of a homer, an opposite field blast that may - or may not have - hooked inside the foul pole. "It had all the earmarks for an instant replay," Maddon said.

*C Dioner Navarro looked good, blocking a few balls in the dirt, throwing out Carl Crawford trying to steal second base, and picking up an opposite field single from the left side.

*The regulars who were playing had at least one at-bat, with both Evan Longoria and Pat Burrell picking up singles.

*Pitching-wise, players said RHP Jeff Bennett looked good, and RHP Jeremy Hellickson continued to impress.

"His changeup was filthy." Dan Johnson said.

UPDATE, 10:13: The Rays are now planning to play the intrasquad game at around 11. Here are the lineups as of now:

Team One
Bartlett, ss
Zobrist, 2b
Longoria, 3b
Pena, 1b
Shoppach, c
Joyce, rf
Jennings, cf
Ruggiano, lf
Shealy, dh
Choate, p

Team Two
Rodriguez, 2b
Crawford, lf
Upton, cf
Burrell, DH
Kapler, rf
D. Johnson, 3b
Navarro, c
Brignac, ss
Richard, 1b
Bennett, p


UPDATE, 9:08: Plans can change, especially with today's weather issues, but here is the lineup posted in the clubhouse for Wednesday's exhibition opener. It is of some interest that Ben Zobrist is hitting third since manager Joe Maddon has acknowledged he is thinking of moving him there and dropping Evan Longoria to fourth and Carlos Pena to fifth. But with C Dioner Navarro hitting second, it's a reminder that the spring lineups don't mean that much either, at least not until all, or at least most, of the regulars are involved.

1. Bartlett, ss
2. Navarro, c
3. Zobrist, 2b
4. Upton, cf
5. Joyce, rf
6. Shoppach, dh
7. D. Johnson, 3b
8. Shealy, 1b
9. Ruggiano, lf

James Shields and Matt Garza are scheduled to pitch, not sure yet on who else.

Among those not scheduled to make the trip to Sarasota are Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Pat Burrell, Gabe Kapler and Willie Aybar.

DEVELOPING: The heavy rains that roared the Tampa Bay area early this morning have hit Port Charlotte, forcing the Rays to shuffle their plans and their schedule for the day. They are still hoping to play their scheduled intrasquad game, or at least some of it, with the start time tentatively pushed back to 11 a.m.


[Last modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010 12:15am]


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