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spring training

Tampa Bay Rays: former top pick Josh Sale excited about Trop debut

Soaking it in

OF Josh Sale, the Rays' first pick in the 2010 draft, was excited to play his first game at the Trop and even got an at-bat for the big-league club in the exhibition. Sale, facing LHP Matt Moore in the seventh, grounded out on the first pitch. "It was cool, I'm just trying to get back up here as quickly as possible, that's for … sure," said Sale, who will start in extended spring. "I was soaking it up as much as I could."

Steal of the day

UTL Elliot Johnson stole third, then tried stealing home, in the fifth inning, saying he slid under the C Jose Lobaton tag even though he was called out. "I was in there," Johnson said. "It's a fun play, definitely gets your heart beating. Even in an intrasquad game, it's exciting."

Reaction of the day

When DH Luke Scott grounded out into the defensive shift in the fourth inning, hitting it to 2B Jeff Keppinger in short rightfield, he had fun by over-running first base and pretending to charge toward Keppinger. What was Keppinger thinking? "I thought about dropping my glove and giving him a left hook," Keppinger joked. "He's a character."

Fan tribute of the day

Fans of Rays LHP David Price were honored Wednesday night by Price at a special VIP party for raising more than $22,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The event was held at Pin Busters in downtown Tampa.

Locker talk

In the Rays clubhouse, CF B.J. Upton gets the corner locker used last year by Johnny Damon, 1B Carlos Peña gets his old locker (Sean Rodriguez's last year) and C Jose Molina and DH Luke Scott get doublewides (Molina in C Kelly Shoppach's old spot, and Scott in Upton's, next to 3B Evan Longoria).

Rays spring leaders

Batting leaders

G: 28 Elliot Johnson/Jeff Salazar

Avg. (min. 40 at-bats): .327, Desmond Jennings

R: 11, Evan Longoria

H: 18, Jeff Keppinger

2B: 4, Johnson/Salazar/Ben Zobrist

HR: 4, Longoria

RBIs: 9, Longoria

SB: 4 Jennings/Salazar

Pitching leaders

W: 3, James Shields

SV: 2, Ryan Reid/Romulo Sanchez

ERA (min. 15 IP): 2.08, Shields

IP: 23, David Price

SO: 23, Price/Shields

Today: off

Optional workout, 9:30 a.m., Tropicana Field. Closed to public.

Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

On deck

Friday: Season opener, vs. Yankees, 3:10 p.m., Tropicana Field. Rays — James Shields (16-12, 2.82 in 2011); Yankees — CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.00). Sold out.

Saturday: vs. Yankees, 7:10 p.m., Tropicana Field. Rays — David Price (12-13, 3.49); Yankees — Hiroki Kuroda (13-16, 3.07)

Sunday: vs. Yankees, 1:40 p.m., Tropicana Field. Rays — Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95); Yankees — Phil Hughes (5-5, 5.79)

Monday: off

Tuesday: at Tigers, 1:05, Comerica Field. Rays — Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89); Tigers — Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.75)

Wednesday: at Tigers, 1:05, Comerica Field. Rays — Jeff Niemann (11-7, 4.06); Tigers — Justin Verlander (24-5, 2.40)

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Rays: former top pick Josh Sale excited about Trop debut 04/04/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 10:46pm]
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