As the Rays roll ...
Today is definitely one of those days where having a roof on the Trop is a good thing.
The Indians come to town having won two consecutive series, and it will be interesting to see if having the insights of their former hitting coach, Derek Shelton, gives the Rays any advantages.
The Indians may be without one of their top players, as CF Grady Sizemore had to leave Sunday's game in Baltimore with a bruised left knee. They will have Russell Branyan, whom the Rays tried to sign this off-season, after pursuing Johnny Damon and before signing Hank Blalock.
RHP Jeff Niemann will be on the mound for the Rays, seeking to continue his impressive roll, ranking seventh in the AL with a 2.27 ERA and eighth with a .203 opponents average.
A couple of interesting Rays-related pieces, including this one from the New York Post's Joel Sherman, on why the Yankees think it's wiser to have ace CC Sabathia bat against the Mets this weekend than pitch against the AL East leading Rays on Wednesday. Overall, it's a big week for the Yankees as they play the Red Sox, Rays and Mets.
And there's already speculation on where Pat Burrell will end up once he clears waivers and the Rays cut him loose - or trade him after paying all, or just about all, of what's left of the $9-million on his contract. The Mets are among the teams you may hear about. His former team, the Phillies, not so much. Though manager Charlie Manuel did tell mlb.com: "I think Burrell can still hit. I think he'll get a job. I hope he does."
And here's a bit of an analysis on the Burrell move from the folks at fangraphs.com.