Rays at Rangers, with Jaso (yes, Jaso) on top
UPDATE, 4:04: A couple of notes from the Rays PR staff on the Jaso situation:
- It's the first time in the Rays' 1,996-game history that a catcher has hit leadoff.
- It's the first time in an AL game in more than a year, since Kurt Suzuki for Oakland on May 4, 2009.
- Russell Martin has done in 17 times this season for the Dodgers.
- Jason Kendall has done it 452 times as a catcher.
UPDATE, 2:55: Maddon said he's been thinking for a few days about trying Jaso in the leadoff spot against righthanders, and may very well stick with this if he likes how it looks. "Obviously we've always talked about the great eye that he's got, the way he works at-bats, his on-base percentage, and the thing that I think gets lost with him, and we've talked about it, is that he's a very good baserunner. You don't have to steal bases to be a very effective baserunner. So he does all of that,'' Maddon said. "Just trying to set things up for Longo as well as we can, and I like the idea of Zo hitting behind him and then here comes Carlos.''
As much as it looks like an odd idea, Maddon can make a pretty good case, especially with Jason Bartlett on the DL and others struggling. "(Jaso) really works a good at-bat every time up there and after all we're just trying to get the whole thing rolling, and he has a chance to do that,'' Maddon said. "We still don't have like an offensive identity. We're still searching for that based on some guys not hitting at their normal levels right now, and then you've got JB being injured, which throws a wrench into the whole thing also. ... I thought this would be kind of an interesting way to look at it, and I think it has potential to be actually fruitful, so we'll see.''
DEVELOPING: The Rays play their 1,000th road game in franchise history and mark the occasion with one of their most unusual lineups, with rookie catcher John Jaso batting leadoff.
Manager Joe Maddon has raved about Jaso's ability to work good at-bats, and obviously he is trying to maximize that today, dropping B.J. Upton to ninth in the order.
Jaso (who has a team-best .425 on-base percentage) said he had no idea until this morning when he was getting changed at his locker and Maddon approached him - with a big grin - and asked him if he had seen the lineup card. "I knew something was up,'' Jaso said. "No telling what's going to happen around here. I think it's cool.''
And, no, he hadn't done it before: "This is the first time for me - high school, Little League, all that stuff, I've never hit leadoff before.''
It's not unprecedented in baseball; C Jason Kendall hit leadoff 467 times during his career.
Here is the lineup:
In the first 999 road games, the Rays are 374-625.
Also of note, the Rays have promoted their two Cuban free agents, 1B/OF Leslie Anderson and LHP Sergio Espinosa, from Class A Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery. And, according to a report in El Nuevo Herald, the Rays have signed another Cuban, 1B Jose Julio Ruiz, to a unique deal (almost like a rent to own) - they pay him just $20,000 a month now, with the option to sign him to a 4-year, $4-million deal in November.
And until Friday's seven-run fourth inning, the Rays and Mariners had been the only AL teams to not allow five or more runs in an inning, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.