Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays name Jeff Niemann starter, Lance Cormier long reliever, trade Jason Hammel to Rockies

BOSTON — The Rays liked what they saw from RHP Jeff Niemann this spring, and they liked what they got from RHP Lance Cormier.

So when it came time Sunday to finally decide the last two spots on their pitching staff, they made Niemann the fifth starter, Cormier the long reliever and Jason Hammel a Colorado Rockie.

The decision between Hammel and Niemann, both out of options, was difficult; manager Joe Maddon called it "our Sophie's choice."

But Niemann, 26, impressed the Rays by improving on what they asked him to — the down angle of his fastball and the command of his breaking ball — and having a higher upside. "The progress that we saw was something that was very encouraging," executive VP Andrew Friedman said.

Niemann, who has made just five big-league appearances (all last season) since being the fourth overall pick of the 2004 draft, got the news after pitching in a minor-league intrasquad game in Port Charlotte.

"I'm real excited; I can't wait to go up there and do my best to get some wins," he said. "To finally be able to break with the big-league team and be part of it from the get-go is something special, and something I'll never forget."

Cormier, 28, signed as a free agent after going 3-3, 4.02 ERA in 45 games for Baltimore. He offers the ability to work several innings at a time, an important element for the bullpen, especially early in the season, and the potential to handle more. Plus he gets ground balls and can get out left-handers.

"I really like his pitches. I like his curveball, I like his cutter — a lot. The fastball is fast enough (89-91 mph) when it's located that it really works well with the other two pitches," Maddon said. "I liked his demeanor; I thought that he handled the whole thing well."

HAMMER TIME: After six years in the Rays organization, and pitching in 73 big-league games over the past three, Hammel, 26, sounded eager for the chance to do more in Colorado.

"I'm definitely appreciative of the opportunity (the Rays) gave me," he said after he, too, pitched in Port Charlotte. "Wish there was more. Seemed like I never really had a solidified spot; I was bouncing back between starting and bullpen. … I want to go somewhere that will use me."

Friedman said the Rockies first expressed interest several weeks ago in Hammel — who was 7-15, 5.90 for the Rays — and it was just a matter of working it out as the Rays made their decisions.

THE OTHER A-ROD: For Hammel, the Rays received RHP Aneury Rodriguez, 21, a hard thrower who was 9-10, 3.74 for Class A Modesto last season and joins Double-A Montgomery.

RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS: Today's forecast is threatening, to put it kindly, with an 88 percent chance of rain at game time, according to the National Weather Service, temperatures in the high 40s and wind in the 20-25 mph range. "It's not good," Maddon said. Tuesday is an open date.

UPTON UPDATE: CF B.J. Upton said he was close to getting his timing back after a busy Sunday morning in which he batted 13 times, going 4-for-12, including a homer off Andy Sonnanstine, with a walk while shuttling between two minor-league intrasquad games in Port Charlotte. "Just take a couple more days to get on the fastball and I should be okay," he said. Upton, rehabbing from left shoulder surgery, is schedule to play for Class A Charlotte Thursday-Saturday and join the Rays on April 13.

MISCELLANY: Upton, RHP Chad Bradford and OF Fernando Perez were placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27, RHP Jason Isringhausen retro to March 31. … The Rays officially reassigned C Michel Hernandez; INFs Adam Kennedy, Ray Olmedo, and Chris Richard; and OFs Ray Sadler and Jon Weber to minor-league camp.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Rays name Jeff Niemann starter, Lance Cormier long reliever, trade Jason Hammel to Rockies 04/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 6, 2009 8:04am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”