Rays beat Reds in exhibition opener
Andy Cannizaro successfully breaks up a double play as Adam Rosales, top, throws a wild ball past first during the 8th inning of the Rays opener against the Reds. [James Borchuck, Times]
UPDATE (4:30 PM) The Rays hold on to win, 7-6.
UPDATE (4:12 PM) The Rays went back ahead 7-6 when Ben Zobrist reached on an infield single, went to second on a ground out and scored when Eric Hinske ripped a hard single off the second baseman.
UPDATE (4:04 PM) Rough homecoming for Houser - he gave up a two-run single to his first batter, Jolbert Cabrera, and the Reds tied the score at 6. But he got out of further trouble with a pickoff, a strikeout and a ground out. And the Rays didn't prove to be much a draw in Sarasota, with an announced crowd of only 2,768, less than the Reds drew on Thursday for the Twins (3,085).
(UPDATE 3:56 PM ) LHP prospect Jake McGee got into quite a mess in the eighth, walking three and giving up two singles (one that caromed off what looked to be his left leg) as the Reds pulled to within 6-4 in the eighth, and are still batting. Sarasota's James Houser just came to pitch for the Rays. McGee ended up facing five batters and they all reached.
(UPDATE 3:33 PM) The Rays extended the lead to 6-2. First Andy Cannizaro drew a bases loaded walk off Scott Sauerbeck, and they got two more when John Jaso grounded to second and the Reds botched a double play with an errant throw.
(UPDATE 3:20 PM) Still 3-2 Tampa Bay, Chad Orvella just worked the seventh for the Rays, getting out of trouble after Joel Guzman didn't make much of a bid for a hard smash that became a double.
(UPDATE 2:45 PM) Manager Joe Maddon said he wanted to see strikes from the pitchers competing for spots in the rotation, but Jason Hammel walked two in the fourth that led to a Reds run and cut the lead to 3-2.
(UPDATE 2:02 PM) Was the legend just born? Evan Longoria just tied the game for the Rays by smashing a Edinson Volquez pitch high off the left-centerfield fence, doubling in Jonny Gomes who was hit by a pitch. Shawn Riggans put the Rays up 2-1 with an RBI single to left, scoring Longoria. The Rays got a third run when a balk was called on Reds pitcher Justin Lehr. That's about it for the regulars, as John Rodriguez pinch-hit for Akinori Iwamura and the Rays made numerous changes.
(UPDATE 1:43 PM) Edwin Jackson worked two scoreless innings to start the game, striking out his last two hitters. The Rays had the bases loaded in the first, after pulling off a double-steal (which might be the first ever in the first inning of the first spring game), and didn't score.
The Reds did score in the third off Jason Hammel as Paul Janish doubled and came around on two fly balls.
(UPDATE 12:55 PM) CF B.J. Upton did not agree to terms by the team-imposed noon Friday deadline, so that means the Rays have renewed his contract, and likely for somewhere in the $405,000 to $415,000 range. The MLB deadline for renewals isn't until Sunday, so an announcement may not come until then.
(UPDATE 10:16 AM) RHP Scott Dohmann agreed to terms on a one-year deal Friday morning, leaving just CF B.J. Upton unsigned with a team-imposed deadline of noon today. If Upton doesn't agree he will be renewed at $10,000 less than the Rays offered, and as a player with less than three years service time (meaning he is pre-arbitration) there isn't anything he can do about it.
The lineup posted for today's spring opener against the Reds in Sarasota could be a preview of what the Rays field in Baltimore on March 31, with a few exceptions, as Willy Aybar will be the DH on Friday (instead of Cliff Floyd) and Shawn Riggans the catcher (instead of Dioner Navarro). Otherwise, it has a reasonable look:
Akinori Iwamura, 2b
Carl Crawford, lf
Carlos Pena, 1b
B.J. Upton, cf
Willy Aybar, dh
Jonny Gomes, rf
Evan Longoria, 3b
Jason Bartlett, ss
Shawn Riggans, c
Edwin Jackson will be the starter today, followed by Jason Hammel, Andy Sonnantine, Grant Balfour, Chad Orvella and James Houser. The Reds did agree to allow the DH to be used.
Houser didn't have much to say about the remaining 25 games of his suspension for failing a performance-enhancing drug test in the minors being lifted as a result of being placed on the 40-man roster. "Obviously it's a good thing,'' he said. "I get to play baseball and that's important to me.''
Players quickly settled into the clubhouse at Progress Energy Park after equipment manager Chris Westmoreland orchestrated the move from the Naimoli complex.