Rays-Pirates, by the bay
Update: Play was not resumed and the game canceled.
Under the Rays' policy for canceled games, fans may exchange tickets from Tuesday's game for a ticket of equal value to one of the two remaining spring home games (Monday or Friday), or the value can be applied to a ticket for a regular-season game at Tropicana Field. Tickets can be exchanged at the Tropicana Field box office, or at the Progress Energy Field box office (open only on exhibition game days) and by mail to:
Tampa Bay Rays
Attn: Ticket Operations
One Tropicana Drive
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Update, 1:45 The game is delayed by rain with the Pirates leading 2-0 after two innings.
Update 1:18 RHP Jeff Niemann was optioned to Triple-A Durham, making it even more clear the final spot is between Sonnanstine and Howell.
Niemann was understandably disappointed, but took solace in knowing he made a good impression with a solid spring, going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, with the idea that he could be back soon.
"I think I've thrown the ball pretty well and hopefully I made a strong enough case and strong enough statement when I was out there that I'm definitely in their heads,'' Niemann said.
Update, 1:00 The Rays are going to announce their starting rotation sometime this afternoon, which reallys means it comes down to whether Andy Sonnanstine gets the fifth spot, as expected, or they give it to J.P. Howell, who is starting today. The battle for the last bullpen spot, between Grant Balfour and Scott Dohmann, could go into next week.
Manager Joe Maddon said the LHP Scott Kazmir continues to feel better, but still hasn't gotten back on the mound and there has been no date set for a return.
It's a slow-starting Saturday for the Rays coming off Friday's night game in Tampa, with just a light pre-game workout planned.
Neither CF B.J. Upton nor 3B Akinori Iwamura talked their way into the lineup, getting an extra day to rest their injuries. C Shawn Riggans is behind the plate, and Andy Cannizaro is back on the field at second base. The Rays appear to be looking at a few of the guys who could be under review as finals cuts are made.
The Rays lineup:
J.P. Howell, who seems more likely headed for a bullpen role, is starting.
For the Pirates
Jack Wilson, ss