Sunday, December 10, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Jeff Niemann solid in final outing before Tampa Bay Rays pick No. 5 starter

FORT MYERS — With the decision due this morning, RHP Jeff Niemann completed his case to retain his spot in the rotation with a solid five-inning outing in Monday's 10-4 win over the Twins.

"It went pretty good," Niemann said. "It's kind of that point in the spring where you try to go out there and throw everything and pitch pretty similar to how you're going to throw in the regular season, and I think we were kind of able to do that (Monday)."

The only blemishes in his 93-pitch outing were three walks (his first in four big-league spring starts) and a home run on a 2-and-0 fastball to Ryan Doumit leading off the second.

"I liked Jeff's performance," manager Joe Maddon said. "He was a little bit up with his fastball, but I liked his stuff overall and I thought he pitched well."

Niemann, who has added a cutter to his repertoire, is 1-2, 4.05 in his four starts (plus a minor-league outing) and seems likely to stay in the rotation with RHP Wade Davis (1-2, 4.91 in five) going to the bullpen.

Maddon said team officials were still discussing the decision. Also to be set is the order behind opening-day starter James Shields. LHP David Price is No. 2, but they appear to be deciding between RHP Jeremy Hellickson and rookie LHP Matt Moore for the third game, pondering the advantage of starting a lefty against the Yankees.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Desmond Jennings (sore shoulder) got five at-bats in a minor-league game in Port Charlotte and was to play catch, with the possibility he could DH today against the Red Sox. … SS Reid Brignac (plantar fascia problem, right foot) went 2-for-5 with a homer in a minor-league game and "moved around well," Maddon said, but his status for opening day remains uncertain. Brignac said his condition has progressed to "uncomfortable but tolerable." … CF B.J. Upton (sore back) said he felt "a lot better" and took 20 swings and did some running, but he wasn't ready to play in a game. His availability for the April 6 opener is also uncertain. … OF Sam Fuld got an MRI exam on his sore right wrist and will see a doctor today, with surgery likely.

PITCHING IN: The decision between RHPs Burke Badenhop and Brandon Gomes for the final bullpen spot is also coming "soon," Maddon said. The Rays want to take one more look at Gomes, who has yet to regain full velocity in recovering from offseason back surgery. … Shields will pitch in a minor-league game today rather than face the divisional opponent Red Sox, with RHP Kyle Farnsworth starting and most of the bullpen in action.

GAME DETAILS: The Rays took an early 7-1 lead on homers by Ben Zobrist and Elliot Johnson (his first RBIs) and an RBI single by Jeff Keppinger (hitting .375). … CF Jesus Feliciano apparently lost track of the number of outs when catching a fly in the fifth allowing one run but throwing out the second runner who was trying to score.

Comments
AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

The Marlins apparently found a trade to Giancarlo Stanton's liking, reportedly striking a deal early Saturday to send the slugging outfielder to the Yankees.That's bad news for the Rays and the other AL East teams, who will now have to face Stanton &...
Published: 12/09/17
Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Tampa Bay Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed was up early Saturday to meet up with the Bladerunners team in Clearwater at the ALS Association Florida Chapter's annual Ride, Run, Roll to Defeat ALS, supporting Mike Leist, a former history teacher at St...
Published: 12/09/17
Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Rays officials head to Disney for this week’s winter meetings admitting they don’t know what they’re doing. Wait — that’s not exactly right. It’s more that they don’t know what they’re going to do.Having spent months collecting info and discussing op...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/09/17
Dwight Gooden dons Santa suit, but scene is hardly festive

Dwight Gooden dons Santa suit, but scene is hardly festive

NEW YORK — In one sense, there was nothing unusual about what Dwight Gooden was doing Tuesday night. In the spirit of the holiday season, he had been summoned to dress like Santa Claus and, as a result, was decked out in a red suit and hat, a curly w...
Published: 12/08/17

Rays sue outgoing concessionaire over "sad history" of failures

The Tampa Bay Rays sued outgoing concessionaire Centerplate in U.S. District Court on Friday, alleging the company harmed the team’s reputation, damaged its facilities and did not pay a fair share of revenue as part of a "sad history of failing to fu...
Published: 12/08/17
Ohtani makes surprising decision in picking Angels; will face Rays in July at the Trop

Ohtani makes surprising decision in picking Angels; will face Rays in July at the Trop

Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani decided on his team Friday, and it was something of a surprise as he opted to sign with the Angels.The Mariners and Padres had emerged as the favorites from the seven teams that were chosen, from the full fiel...
Published: 12/08/17
As Tampa Bay Rays head to winter meetings, they are open to “anything and everything” in terms of deals

As Tampa Bay Rays head to winter meetings, they are open to “anything and everything” in terms of deals

Tampa Bay Rays officials will head to next week's winter meetings at Disney eager to get started making moves and willing to consider just about anything – and trading anybody – that they feel makes sense."We have to be open," GM Erik Nea...
Published: 12/07/17

How Ohtani, Stanton deals could impact Rays’ offseason plans

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays, like much of baseball, are waiting for the white smoke, for Shohei Ohtani to pick where he is signing and for Giancarlo Stanton to decide on accepting a trade to the Cardinals, Giants or whatever other team might be involve...
Published: 12/07/17
Tampa Realtor, wife of baseball’s Gary Sheffield, stars in not-quite-real reality TV show

Tampa Realtor, wife of baseball’s Gary Sheffield, stars in not-quite-real reality TV show

On the first episode of TV’s newest real estate show, Tampa agent DeLeon Sheffield welcomes client John Racener to a large house for sale. "I love this part right here," Racener exclaims as they step onto a covered lanai. "Oooo, awesome,’...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Tampa Bay Rays hot topics: Joey Bats or Party at Napoli’s

Tampa Bay Rays hot topics: Joey Bats or Party at Napoli’s

   We don't know what moves the Rays will make this off-season, just that there will be some big ones as they look to cut payroll and decide whether to try to remain competitive or go for a rebuild. With the annual winter meetings next week...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17