Spring game report: Rays vs. Pirates, for openers, 9-5 win
UPDATE, 3:55: Rays win spring opener, beat Pirates 9-5
UPDATE, 3:16: Rays lead 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, with Robinson Chirinos hitting a bases-loaded double in the seventh to put them ahead.
UPDATE, 2:14: Longoria homers to center for Rays in 4th, cutting margin to 2-1. Longoria, Jaso, Zobrist and Damon are done after 4 innings.
UPDATE, 1:47: Impressive inning for RHP Matt Bush - former Padres SS prospect - as he gets 2 Ks and a pop-up in a 1-2-3 third.
UPDATE, 1:37: Manny singled to right in his first AB as a Ray - after taking two strikes - but didn't get anywhere as Zobrist popped up and Upton grounded into a DP
UPDATE, 1:29: RHP Adam Russell, of the new relievers, allows two runs in the second, giving up two singles and hitting a batter. The Rays didn't score in their first as Johnny Damon bounced into a double play after John Jaso walked, and Evan Longoria grounded out.
UPDATE, 1:15: Price's day is done - he threw 17 pitches to five batters, allowed a single to Neil Walker and a four-pitch walk to fellow Vandy product Pedro Alvarez, and that was it. Could've been out of inning after three hutters but Rays couldn't turn double play on grounder by Andrew McCutchen.
UPDATE, 1:07: Price gets a loud cheer from the crowd when he walks in from warming up, starts the game with a ball then strikes out leadoff man Jose Tabata on five pitches.
UPDATE, 12:56: The Rays have signed all their players who weren't yet eligible for arbitration to one-year contracts. RHP Jeff Niemann got around $950,000, the other 26 were within the typical salary structure at or just above the major-league minimum of $414,00... .There was a moment of silence pre-game in honor of the three slain St. Petersburg officers.
UPDATE, 10:21: Manny Ramirez is scheduled to play leftfield on Monday at Port Charlotte (with Johnny Damon as the DH), and is likely to make several other outfield appearances during the spring. Manager Joe Maddon raved about how hard Ramirez has been working, and noted how in his batting practices sessions he concentrates on hitting the ball to rightfield almost exclusively, comparing his approach to that of Roberto Clemente.
* Prospect RHP Albert Suarez will be sidelined another 1-2 weeks after having exploratory arthroscopic surgery in his bruised left knee on Friday.
* Maddon said he won't make any judgements or evaluations of the relievers their first and maybe not their second outings, preferring they just focus on getting their work in. Also, he plans ot get all position players into the first two games. The Rays aren't sending many of their front-line players beyond starter James Shields to Bradenton on Sunday - Matt Joyce, Kelly Shoppach, Casey Kotchman, Elliot Johnson, Desmond Jennings are the biggest names - but Maddon said he will have some of "the varsity" squad travel later this week with consecutive road games at Sarasota and Dunedin Tuesday and Wednesday.
* B.J. Upton won the long-drive competition at Friday's charity golf tournament with a 370-yard blast. "370 is ridiculous,'' Maddon said.
DEVELOPING: The Rays open their exhibition slate today at home in the first of a three-game "series" against the Pirates, with the teams meeting again Sunday in Bradenton and Monday back in Port Charlotte.
To honor the three officers killed in the line of duty, the Rays will wear St. Petersburg police caps for today's game. Also there will be a moment of silence and the stadium flags will be at half-mast.
The Rays are starting pretty much their top players, with a lineup that looks like this:
D. Johnson, 1b
Price likely will work only one inning; others scheduled to work include Chris Archer (the promising prospect acquired from the Cubs), Matt Bush, Cesar Cabral, Rob Delaney, Dirk Hayhurst, Adam Russell.