For starters, Rays vs Red Sox - and Rocco
UPDATE, 3:56: Going to the ninth, Rays lead 12-4. Attendance was stadium record sellout of 6,629.
UPDATE, 3:28: Chris Richard just hit a two-run homer to right as the Rays expanded their lead to 12-4. Beckham is getting his first at-bat, and pulled a ball just foul, then beat out a slow roller for an infield single.
UPDATE, 3:10: Lotsa substitutions on both sides, and a special treat from the Sox, who brought knuckleballer Charlie Zink to confound the Rays in the sixth. No. 1 draft pick Tim Beckham got in his first game and bobbled the first ball hit to him, charged with an error before his first at-bat.
UPDATE, 2:40 Baldelli hits an RBI single up the middle to make the Rays lead 10-4, and he's now getting pinch hit for. Looks like his day as DH is done.
UPDATE, 2:37 The Red Sox are putting together a little rally, scoring three runs in the top of the fifth. They were helped, as the Rays had some troubles defensively. Elliot Johnson bobbled a grounder at second early on, then on a fly ball to centerfield, Fernando Perez tried to dive in for it, but it fell in shallow left. And former top pick Tim Beckham, getting in his first spring training action, tried to field a potential double play ball at short, but bobbled it trying to make the throw to second.
So far 10-3 Rays.
UPDATE, 2:19 Baldelli walked in his second at-bat. Down to the clubhouse to talk to Niemann.
UPDATE, 2:09: Rays keep scoring, getting five in the third inning to make it 10-0. Elliot Johnson and Fernando Perez each had big hits, knocking in two runs apiece.
UPDATE, 1:42: Evan Longoria just welcomed reliever Enrique Gonzalez with a two-run homer that struck the front of the boardwalk beyond the leftfield bullpen. Rays are up 5-0.
UPDATE, 1:39: Rays just got a couple more runs and chased Sox starter Michael Bowden - Elliot Johnson doubled, Fernando Perez walked and Jason Bartlett delivered the big two-out hit a double beyond the reach of leftfielder Jason Bay.
UPDATE, 1:30: An impressive second inning from Jeff Niemann, who got a groundout and two strikeouts.
UPDATE, 1:17: The Rays just took their first lead of the spring in a typical Rays way: Fernando Perez singled, stole second, went to third on an errant pickoff throw and scored on a ground out by Jason Bartlett. The rallie continues with an infield single by Pat Burrell, despite an impressive dive 3B Angel Chavez, and a clean single by Willy Aybar. Dioner Navarro grounded out, Rays up 1-0.
UPDATE, 1:08: Baldelli flies out to left. Easiest possible story angle of the day eliminated. Jeff Niemann gets out of the first inning allowing just the leadoff single to Ellsbury.
UPDATE, 1:06: Baldelli's first at-bat against the Rays comes in a key situation, as they have Jacoby Ellsbury on third with two outs.
UPDATE, 1:00 Just about ready for gametime here in Port Charlotte. Traffic flow leading to the stadium looks to be much better, and there were plenty of good feelings in the stadium as the Rays welcomed back former teammate Rocco Baldelli.
"I got more hugs today than I got in a long time,'' Baldelli said. "It was really nice.''
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Ex-Ray Rocco Baldelli is in the house today with the Red Sox, and will DH against the Rays in Port Charlotte.
Several Rays regulars return to the lineup, and RHP Jeff Niemann makes his spring debut.