Niemann sharp in minor league start
RHP Jeff Niemann, vying for that fifth starter spot, was impressive in an intrasquad Triple-A game Monday, throwing six scoreless innings, giving up four hits and no walks, while striking out six. He threw 68 pitches.
“I felt real good today - I was executing everything,” Niemann said. “It’s good to come out here and just kind of work on stuff and sharpen it up and fine-tune everything..Started to feel good with all my pitches, mixing it up well. Pretty much throwing the ball where I want to."
With the rotation spot possibly decided any day now, Niemann said he won't try to control what he can't control, instead just doing the best he can. He smiled, pointed to his Rays hat and said, "Now I've just got to sit here and wait and see if I get to wear this or not. We'll see."
In the same intrasquad game, B.J. Upton had four at-bats, striking out twice, grounding out and reaching base on a fielder's choice. He made three plays defensively, catching two fly balls. Upton said he felt good playing six innings.
"Stamina is coming up, stamina is almost there," Upton said. "Could have gone seven today if they wanted me to."
Upton said he still isn't sure of the schedule, but may be going to Fort Myers for another minor league game tommorrow, or not playing at all.
RHP Dan Wheeler was responsible for one of Upton's Ks Monday. Wheeler had his first two inning stint of the spring, giving up one run on two hits, while striking out two.
-- JOE SMITH