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For starters, Rays at Jays



Update 4:30 p.m. RHP Jeff Niemann was "disappointed" in his outing, when he gave up nine runs on seven hits while getting just two outs in a relief appearance.

He said his fastball command wasn't there, which put him behind in the count too often, and hitters took advantage.

Niemann is vying for the fifth starter spot - a position manager Joe Maddon said could be decided by the middle of next week.  

"It's definitely disappointing - I had the worst outing in probably the most important outing," Niemann said.

Update 4:25 p.m The Jays beat the Rays 15-4

Update 3:14 p.m Niemann's struggles continued into the sixth, where he's given up three runs so far (and the bases are loaded).

Niemman hasn't been helped greatly by his defense, including a bad hop that got past Ray Olmedo at short in the sixth that led to a run, but he doesn't appear to have the command he's had all spring. And the Jays are taking advantage.

Niemann was pulled here in the sixth, having only been able to get two outs in an outing that was expected to last around three innings.

Jays 10, Rays 4

Update 2:46 p.m. Niemann, vying for the fifth starter spot, is off to a rough start.

Niemann, relieving Gaza,  walked Wells to load the bases and then gave up a two run double by Kevin Millar.

Then, after a potential inning ending pop-out got away from C Dioner Navarro, Jason Lane ripped a ground-rule double to left-center, scoring two more runs.

Niemann had given up just one run in his previous 11 spring innings.

Update 2:36 p.m Garza finished his outing after tossing 4 2/3 innings, having given up two runs on six hits, leaving two runners on base to Jeff Niemman, who has entered the game.

Rays 4, Jays 2

Update 2:22 p.m Garza has finished four innings, settling down after the first couple innings and has given up just one run on three hits. He'll probably come out for another one or two, with Niemann scheduled to throw about three.

Update 2:07 p.m Ensberg just hit an RBI single in the fourth, giving the Rays a 4-1 lead.

Update 1:43 p.m Brad Emaus just hit an RBI double to get the Jays on the board.

Rays starter Matt Garza has given up three hits in two innings so far. But he's only given up one run thanks to a spectacular over the shoulder catch in center by Gabe Kapler, who went back near the warning track to catch a Russ Adams fly ball.

Rays 3, Jays 1

Update 1:33 a.m. Morgan Ensberg doubled in the second, and scored on another double by Adam Kennedy to make it 3-0 Rays

Update 1:20 p.m. LF Carl Crawford just got the Rays started with a two-run homer in the first inning, ripping a Brad Mills' pitch over the rightfield wall for his first home run of the spring.

Crawford's blast scored Bartlett, who led off with a walk.

Rays 2, Jays 0

Update 11:30 a.m. Not much news out of Joe Maddon's pre-game session. Maddon said CF B.J. Upton is scheduled to get three at bats and play defense Saturday in a minor league game.

Maddon said it's possible Upton could get into his first Grapefruit League game the middle of next week.

Though Maddon had some reservations with OF Matt Joyce being DH tommorrow with the Orioles throwing three lefties, Joyce will likely still get the nod and get into his first Grapefruit League game.

RHP Matt Garza and Jeff Niemann will pitch today, with Niemann vying for the fifth rotation spot. Maddon said he'd like to have that decided by middle to late next week, so whomever earns the spot can get prepared.

An early starting morning in Port Charlotte as the Rays headed off at 8 a.m. for today's game in Dunedin without Evan Longoria, who is joining Team USA for the final round of the World Baseball Classic.

CF B.J. Upton said he came through Thursday's minor-league DH experience with no problems and that his surgically repaired left shoulder felt "good." Upton said he expects to play centerfield and bat in a minor-league game on Saturday, possibly the last step before he starts playing with the Rays in big-league exhibitions.

"If I can do that, there's no reason I can't get out there with those guys next week,'' Upton said. "I'm tired of being on the back fields.''

Also, Matt Joyce is in the lineup for Saturday's game in Fort Lauderdale as the DH, which will be his first big-league game action of the spring following a bout with right leg tendinitis.

Friday's revised lineup:

Bartlett, ss
Crawford, lf
Kapler, cf
Pena, dh
Navarro, c
Richard, 1b
Ensberg, 3b
Sadler, rf


Adams, lf
Bautista, ss

Rios, rf
Wells, dh
MIllar, 1b
Lane, cf
Emaus, 2b
Ahrens, 3b

Kennedy, 2b
Garza, p



[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:45am]


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