For starters, Yankees at Rays
UPDATE, 5:00: LHP David Price was impressive in his first spring start, throwing four scoreless innings in his longest outing to date.
Price said he's still not where he wants to be yet, but is confident he can get there by Opening Day, and would be disappointed if he gets sent down to Triple-A to start the season, which is a possibility with the Rays preaching patience in his development.
"It's still getting there - I don’t feel like David Price right now, and I know it," Price said. "I haven’t thrown a whole lot, it's still going to be a process. It might take a couple more starts, couple more outings. It's something I'll have to work with."
Price, who gave up three hits and struck out four Sunday, has racked up just 8 1/3 spring innings after doing considerably less throwing in the offseason (due to his workload last season, and pitching in October).
Price was encouraged with his changeup - a pitch the Rays have said they wanted him to develop this spring. Price said he feels good with the changeup and comfortable "I can throw it any time. 3-2, 2-0 (count), I don't have a problem throwing it in any situation."
UPDATE, 4:53: Rays win 5-0 over the Pirates.
UPDATE, 4:11: Ray Sadler hit his team-high fourth homer with two outs in the eighth as the Rays expanded their lead to 5-0.
UPDATE, 3:28: RHP Jason Isringhausen has entered the game here in the seventh, pitching a clean inning.
UPDATE, 3:22: Think OF Matt Joyce was excited for his first spring at-bat in a big-league exhibition?
Joyce just came into the plate in the sixth, and swung at the first pitch, blasting it to the warning track in rightfield. It was caught near the wall, but Joyce gave it a ride.
UPDATE, 3:11: RHP James Shields, who walked four in his Triple-A outing today, said the day was off from the get-go, when he came to the complex at 10:45 a.m. (45 minutes before scheduled first pitch in the minor league game).
Shields said for the first time in four months, his phone died last night, so he didn't get the message about his switch from starting the minor league game instead of the big league one (1 pm) start. He entered in the third, and after walking three hitters, he seemed to settle down after that, striking out five in an overall inconsistent day..
Shields said it was good to be able to work his way out of jams, and experience that in an exhibition game, so he'll be ready for it if it happens when the game's finally count in the standings.
"It's kind of good to feel that way in a game like that, so I know what it feels like," Shields said. "It feels like I had been kind of cruising in the first three games. "You can kind of treat it like during the season, you're not going to have your good stuff everyday, you've got to battle through it.
UPDATE, 3:00: Troy Percival, who has been perfect in this first three appearances, is in. He got Brett Gardner on a grounder to short but just hit Melky Cabrera.
Percival finished the scoreless inning with the hit batter the only blemish.
UPDATE, 2:46 Price's day is over after four innings, having given up just three hits.
UPDATE, 2:41: The Rays scored two more runs in the fourth on two bases-loaded walks (both coming with two outs). Crawford and Aybar got the walks.
Rays 3, Yankees 0
UPDATE, 2:26: Price just finished a quick fourth inning, and has given up just three hits so far.
UPDATE, 2:23: DH Pat Burrell got the Rays on the board with an RBI single in the third, scoring Carlos Pena.
Rays 1, Yankees 0
UPDATE, 2:07: Price got two quick outs in the third, including a strikeout, before getting into a little bit of a jam. He walked Gardner and then Cabrera reached base when Jason Bartlett couldn't make the play on a slow chopper to short.
But in a good battle with Xavier Nady, who fouled off several pitches, Price got him to fly out to left to end the threat.
UPDATE, 2:00: RHP James Shields finished up his outing in the Triple-A exhibition, going five innings, giving up two runs on four walks and two hits. Shields struck out five, while throwing 83 pitches.
Shields struggled with his command early on, walking the bases loaded in the first, but seemed to settle in after the first couple innings.
We'll get to chat with him soon.
UPDATE, 1:54: OF Matt Joyce had four at-bats in a Triple-A game Sunday, going 0-for-2 with two walks, scoring a run in the first.
He's slated to get some at-bats in the exhibition against the Yankees too.
UPDATE, 1:49: RHP Andy Sonnanstine said he struggled with command of all his pitches in Sunday's start for Double-AA at the minor league fields.
Sonnanstine, who gave up six hits and walked two (giving up one run) in four innings, said he physically felt "great" and was encouraged he worked his way out of some jams (thanks to two double plays). He finished with 67 pitches.
He continued to work on his changeup as well.
"The fastball was more erratic than I'd like it to be, I was overthrowing some sliders and breaking balls," Sonannstine said. "Just kind of learning experience."
UPDATE, 1:40: Price is laboring a bit in the second, allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single. Price struck out Cody Ransom, then got Angel Berroa to ground into a double play.
UPDATE, 1:32: Price was sharp in the first after a leadoff single, helped by C Dioner Navarro throwing out Brett Gardner at second. The Rays loaded the bases in their first, but Pat Burrell and Navarro popped out.
UPDATE, 1:10: The big-league game is just starting, but RHP Andy Sonnanstine is already done pitching for Double-A Montgomery, throwing 67 pitches: His line: 4 IP, 6 hits, 1 run/earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts.
Also there was another raccoon running around the stands before the game.
UPDATE, 12:15: Principal owner Stuart Sternberg and family are on the scene.
Lots of pitching going on today, as RHP James Shields is working in the Triple-A game and RHP Andy Sonnanstine started the Double-A game. LHP David Price is getting the chance to start against the Yankees to give him a chance to get "amped up" about the stage and to work longer innings.
Matt Joyce is going to DH in the minor-league and major-league game.
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Manager Joe Maddon let the Rays sleep in today after back-to-back long road trips, with an 11 a.m. report time and a miminal pre-game workout (except for the pitchers in the 11:30 a.m. minor-league game that is!).
There's a lot of buzz for the only visit of the spring by the Yankees (TV and radio as well) and what's expected to be the largest crowd at the Charlotte Sports Park, but .... the Yankees aren't really going to look all that much the Yankees.Missing for various reasons are Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira, Hideki Matsui andh C.C. Sabathia, who is instead pitching in a minor-league game. They are bringing ex-Ray and Tampa product Kevin Cash.
The Rays are using primarily their A lineup (minus WBC-ing Akinori Iwamura and Evan Longoria and rehabbing B.J. Upton), and one item of news today will be an update on Upton's left hand, which was struck by a pitch Saturday.
The Rays lineup:
The Yankees lineup: