Sunday in the park ... Rays win 7-5
UPDATE 4:24 PM) Rays win 7-5. Wade Davis couldn't make it through the ninth, but James Houser came in to finish it up. The victory gives the Rays their best spring start (3-0) since 2000.
UPDATE 3:58 PM) Rays lead 7-2 going to the bottom of the ninth.
(UPDATE 3:45 PM) RHP Wade Davis, one of the Rays' top prospects, got a rough welcome in his first career big-league spring training game, giving up a home run to the first batter he faced, Raul Chavez on a 2-0 pitch. Rays lead 7-2 in the eighth. With a win, they will match their best spring start - 3-0 in 2000.
(UPDATE 3:23 PM) Guzman appears to be okay, as ace PR man Chris Costello just said that Guzman had a bruised left ring finger and is considered day-to-day. Rays just expanded the lead to 7-1.
(UPDATE 3:06 PM) Rays expanded their lead to 5-1 as Ben Zobrist got down a safety squeeze bunt, scoring Shawn Riggans. The Pirates made a bunch of changes and ended up with three former Rays in their infield at the same time - Jorge Velandia at third, Luis Rivas at short and Josh Wilson at second.
(UPDATE 2:48 PM) Rays lead 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Jae Kuk Ryu is on the mound, Jon Weber replaced Eric Hinske in leftfield. Dioner Navarro got his first at-bat of the spring, replacing Cliff Floyd at DH, and walked. McKechnie Field has been freshened up a bit, with lights add and the tiny visitors clubhouse expanded and renovated.
(UPDATE 2:30 PM) INF Joel Guzman left the game after being hit by a pitch on the left hand. Rays lead 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Niemann was lifted after 33 pitches and said his biggest problem was inconsistency.
(UPDATE 2:01 PM) Rays just went ahead as B.J. Upton lashed a liner to right-center that went for a two-run triple. Now 3-0 as Cliff Floyd doubled in Upton with a smash to right.
(UPDATE 1:48 PM) Niemann's rocky first inning cost him a chance to pitch a scheduled second, as Scott Munter is now on the hill. Niemann went strikeout, single, fly out, walk, groundout.
(UPDATE 1:35 PM) Manager Joe Maddon had good news on LHP Scott Kazmir, who has advanced to "Phase 2" of his recovery from the elbow problem that sent a scare through the team last week. The inflammation has been eliminated and Kazmir is now working extensively with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield on drills to simulate the throwing motion. If all goes well, Kazmir should move to the "Phase 3," playing catch, in the next two-three days. Maddon also had positive reports on LHP David Price, who threw a bullpen session Sunday and could make his game debut in about a week. ... There was no scoring in the first inning; Rays starter Jeff Niemann wasn't particularly sharp.
The Rays and Pirates are just getting underway under beautiful skies at Bradenton's picturesque McKechnie Field.
The Rays left a number of the first-teamers behind today, though hot 3B prospect Evan Longoria and CF B.J. Upton are on the travel squad. Ben Zobrist, making a bid for the utility infield job, gets a start at second base.
Other pitchers scheduled to work after Niemann include Scott Munter, Jae Kuk Ryu, Calvin Medlock, Kurt Birkins and Wade Davis.