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For starters, Rays vs. Twins



UPDATE, 3:37: Elliot Johnson hits a late solo home but the Rays still lose to the Twins, 4-3.

UPDATE, 3:20: It's 4-2 Twins going to the ninth.

UPDATE, 2:42: Kazmir said he felt very good on the mound and added "seriously, that's the best my arm has ever felt.'' He threw all of his pitches, getting several swing-and-misses on his changeup. "I think it was a good first start,'' he said.

UPDATE, 2:35 RHP Jeff Niemann, vying for the fifth rotation spot or a place in the bullpen, has taken over here in the sixth, and could pitch the rest of the game.

Niemann gave up a one-out double, but settled down to retire the side.

UPDATE, 2:23 RHP Joe Nelson entered in the fifth to make his spring debut, and had a little tough time early on.

Nelson gave up a bunt single and got a ground out, but Delmon Young hit a two-run homer over the leftfield wall to give the Twins a 4-2 lead.

Twins 4, Rays 2

UPDATE, 2:08 The Rays tied it back up in the fourth. Crawford led off with a single, and then Pat Burrell came through with an extra-long single, ripping a ball off the leftfield wall.

Burrell stayed at first, but Crawford scored to tie it at 2-2. Zobrist just hit a double down the rightfield line, his second extra base hit of the game.

But after loading the bases, the Rays couldn't score again, with Ruggiano striking out looking and Kennedy grounding out to end the threat.

Rays 2, Twins 2

UPDATE, 1:59 LHP Randy Choate has relieved Wheeler for the fourth, and put together an up-and-down inning. Though he gave up a lead-off single, Choate got Winfree to ground into a double play.

Matos doubled off the leftfield wall, but Zobrist made a nice play from third on a groundout by Tolbert to end the inning.

Twins 2, Rays 1

UPDATE, 1:36 RHP Dan Wheeler is pitching in the third, making his spring debut, which has been tough so far.

Wheeler got Tolbert to fly out to start the inning, but gave up an infield hit to Casilla, who stole second and reached third on a wild pitch.

Wheeler walked Crede, and gave up an RBI single to Delmon Young. But Wheeler settled down, striking out Buscher swinging and getting Redmond to ground into an inning-ending fielder's choice.

Twins 2, Rays 1

UPDATE, 1:29 The Rays tie the game in the second. Ben Zobrist hit a triple to the right-center wall, and Morgan Ensberg knocked him in on a groundout.

Rays 1, Twins 1

UPDATE, 1:18 Kazmir is in a little bit of trouble in the second. Ex-Ray Delmon Young opened the inning by ripping a long-fly ball to deep center off Kazmir, but Gabe Kapler made a nice running catch on the warning track.

After giving up a single, Kazmir then battled in a seven-pitch at-bat with Redmond, nearly getting a called strike three, before striking him out swinging.

But with two outs, Kazmir gave up a single to ex-Ray Brendan Harris, then a double down the leftfield line by Winfree. Matos grounded out to Kazmir to end the threat.

But in the inning, Kazmir gave up three hits, a walk and threw 24 pitches (for 33 total).

Twins 1, Rays 0

UPDATE, 1:13 Twins starter Kevin Slowey made quick work of the Rays in the first inning, striking out two of the three hitters he faced (Crawford and Kapler swinging).

UPDATE, 1:04 LHP Scott Kazmir, making his spring debut, has a clean first inning, retiring the Twins 1-2-3.

Kazmir didn't have to throw too many pitches - he only threw nine - but he'll likely throw just a couple innings.

UPDATE, 11:49: Slight revision to the Rays batting order for today. Now it looks like this:

Crawford, lf
Kapler, cf
Burrell, dh
Zobrist, 3b
Ensberg, 1b
Ruggiano, rf
Kennedy, 2b
Riggans, c

UPDATE, 10:41: The weekly Hot Stove radio show will be live from the Joe Cracker Sportsgrille in Port Charlotte from 7-8 tonight on WDAE-620 AM hosted by Andy Freed and Dave Wills. Tonight's guests are RHP Matt Garza and pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Also, Triple-A pitching coach Xavier Hernandez was named the Rays Player Development Man of the Year and Brad Matthews was named Scout of the Year.

UPDATE, 10:37: Just got the Twins lineup, and the Rays will see two familiar faces - Delmon Young hitting fourth and playing left, and Brendan Harris hitting seventh and playing first.

Also, Rays manager Joe Maddon was not quite as optimistic as Matt Joyce, suggesting it might be later than this weekend for the outfielder to get into his first game.

Maddon also said RHP Troy Percival has been impressive, in his work and his workouts, and remains on track to make his spring debut on Thursday.

At this stage, Maddon sounded encouraged about the possibility of Percival being ready to resume closer duties on opening day: "We'll see as we move this along but it looks as though he may be able to do that right now.''

Maddon also said Grant Balfour, struck by a line drive on Saturday, is likely to return to action on Thursday. Maddon also said he is intrigued by what he has seen of Jason Isringhausen and looks forward to seeing him in a game, which will probably happen by the weekend.

Tolbert, ss
Casilla, 2b
Crede, dh
Young, lf
Buscher, 3b
Redmond, c
Harris, 1b
Winfree, rf
Matos, cf
Slowey, p

UPDATE, 9:15: OF Matt Joyce said it was "a big relief" to find out he only had tendinitis, and he hopes to get into his first game by this weekend.

A slightly revised lineup for the Rays today, as manager Joe Maddon moved Jason Bartlett from Sunday to today, Pat Burrell is back and Scott Kazmir is on the mound. Here's how it looks:

Bartlett, ss
Crawford, lf
Kapler, cf
Burrell, dh
Zobrist, 3b
Kennedy, 2b
Ruggiano, rf
Riggans, c
Ensberg, 1b
Kazmir, p

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


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