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For starters, Rays at Twins



UPDATE, 3:59: The Rays lost 16-2. Shields said he felt fine, just didn't pitch well: "It's garbage. I don't care if it's spring training or not, it's not a good outing. I guess there's only one positive thing to come out of it, you can only get better from there.''

Also, "That was pretty bad, and it's not really me.'' 

Manager Joe Maddon pretty much agreed.  "He was missing some spots, overall his velocity was good and all that other kind of stuff. They just hit him today. I'm really not concerned at all,'' Maddon said. "He's healthy, he's throwing the ball well, he'll just sharpen things up a bit. He had to get his work in.'' 

Shields actually was in good humor, joking that after facing Minnesota's Triple-A team in minor-league games his last two outings: "Joe decided to call me up from the minor leagues finally and I pretty much didn't help my cause for staying here.'' 

UPDATE, 2:55: It's 11-2 Twins in the bottom of the sixth and the Rays have taken out all their starters except CF Gabe Kapler and C Shawn Riggans.

UPDATE, 2:43: Shields' miserable day is done, having allowing 11 runs on 12 hits (including three home runs) and three walks plus a hit batter in 4 1/3 innings.

UPDATE, 2:35: Shields is going to be very cranky later - he just started the fifth by giving up a single to Justin Morneau and another homer, a massive two-run shot to right by Jason Kubel. It was the third homer of the day he allowed. walk, a hit batter (coincidence?) and a single made it 9-2, and then a double to right-center (also over Burrell's head) made it 10-2. And now Span dropped a single in front of Burrell, so it's 11-2.

UPDATE, 2:25: Crawford's day just got more interesting, as he hit a drive down the rightfield line that he thought was foul and barely left the batter's box, only to have the wind keep it fair for a home run. Following Iwamura's RBI groundout, that made it 6-2.

UPDATE, 2:13: It's getting worse, as Nick Punto doubled over the head of RF Pat Burrell, and then Tampa product Denard Span had a nice at-bat, singling through the drawn-in infield to expand the Minnesota lead to 6-0.

UPDATE, 2:07: Shields isn't having a good day, having just allowed a two-run line drive homer to Michael Cuddyer. Now it's 4-0 Twins in the fourth.

UPDATE, 2:03: Justin Morneau just led off the fourth with a homer to almost dead center field off Shields on a 1-1 pitch. Now, 2-0 Twins. And Jason Kubel followed with a single.

UPDATE, 2:01: Going to the bottom of the fourth, still 1-0 Twins.

UPDATE, 1:45: Akinori Iwamura just made his presence felt with a drive to right-center that became a triple. No run however as Carl Crawford grounded out to end the third.

UPDATE, 1:22: Opening day starter James Shields is off to a rough start, walking the first two Twins. Now he's gotten two outs on balls hit in the air. And now Jason Kubel singled in a run. Michael Cuddyer made the third out on a fly to left-center. 1-0 Twins.

UPDATE, 1:15: The Rays didn't score in the top of the first, but it was notable for one of those plays you just don't see very often: LF Carl Crawford, who reached on catcher's interference and stole second, was running on the pitch and got just about to third when Evan Longoria hit a deep fly ball to center. Crawford turned around and sped back to second, then tagged up and raced back safely to third.

UPDATE, 12:42: Not much news from manager Joe Maddon's pre-game session - CF B.J. Upton will continue his rehab with another minor-league game on Saturday, and soon will play on back-to-back days, though the second as the DH. Maddon was impressed with how well he ran. RHP Troy Percival came through his first back-to-back outings of the spring fine, and Maddon said he may not need another one. And Maddon said a decision will likely be announced in "a couple more days" regarding the No. 5 starter - most likely after RHP Jason Hammel starts Saturday.

The Twins are running out a pretty good lineup to test James Shields, who is likely to throw about 100 pitches.

Span, lf
Casilla, 2b
Crede, 3b
Morneau, 1b
Kubel, dh
Cuddyer, lf
Gomez, cf
Morales, c
Punto, ss
Baker, p

- - -

The Rays head south soon for the first of three trips to Fort Myers in the next five days. They're bringing some of their big names, including opening day starter James Shields in his last extensive test, and 2B Akinori Iwamura is set for his Rays debut.

Here is the lineup posted in the clubhouse this morning:

Iwamura, 2b
Crawford, lf
Longoria, 3b
Burrell, rf
Joyce, dh
Kapler, cf
Riggans, c
Ensberg, 1b
Bartlett, ss
Shields, p

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


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