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Tampa Bay Rays rookie Wade Davis earns mixed reviews for first start

ST. PETERSBURG — Measuring Rays rookie RHP Wade Davis' performance against what New York's CC Sabathia did Saturday wouldn't be fair.

But by C Kelly Shoppach's measure, Davis — despite four runs, seven hits (including a two-run Robinson Cano homer) and four walks in six innings — actually did pretty well for his first start of the season.

"I thought he handled himself great, which for a young guy is maybe more important than anything; how do you manage the game," Shoppach said. "First time out of the year, near-sellout, Yankees in town, so I thought it was great."

Manager Joe Maddon was also relatively pleased with the 24-year-old's work though noted two of his four walks started with 0-and-2 counts.

"He was getting into some good counts, and he was giving the count back up," Maddon said. "I thought overall he was okay."

Davis gave himself mixed reviews, saying he was "getting ahead good and attacking the zone," but also "getting too amped up, too aggressive with two strikes instead of just executing my pitches. That's something I can build on, though."

GOOD SIGN: RHP Jeff Niemann was very encouraged after testing his bruised right shoulder by playing catch at Tropicana Field, saying he felt better than he thought he would.

Niemann hadn't thrown since getting hit by a line drive off the bat of the Orioles' Miguel Tejada on Thursday, though the pitcher didn't go 100 percent.

"It was the best marked improvement I've felt over the course of the two days," he said. "If I keep making progress like that, I should be fine for that next start."

The real test will be a bullpen session today, which will go a long way in deciding whether Niemann starts Tuesday in Baltimore. If not, Maddon said they'd likely use RHP Andy Sonnanstine, who hasn't pitched since throwing 54 pitches Thursday in relief of Niemann.

FOLLOW-UP: RHP James Shields said watching the Rays' other starters, including RHP Matt Garza and LHP David Price, deliver impressive performances during the week got him more pumped up for his second start today.

"I pitched the first game, and I did okay," he said. "And those guys were just shoving it."

Shields, who gave up three runs on six innings in a no-decision Tuesday on opening night, said he won't change his approach too much.

"I battled the first game. … I didn't have my great stuff," Shields said. "I'm just going to try to stay as consistent as I can with my fastball."

MISCELLANY: The Rays were last held to two hits at home on June 1, 2007, by Kansas City. … RHPs Rafael Soriano and Mike Ekstrom will sign autographs near the rightfield line from noon to 12:30 p.m. today. … 3B Evan Longoria received his Gold Glove award Saturday. Ben Zobrist will receive his 2009 team MVP award before today's game. … Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira snapped his season-starting 0-for-17 with a fifth-inning double. … LHP Jake McGee made his first start for Double-A Montgomery, giving up three hits, two walks and no runs while striking out three in five innings.

Tampa Bay Rays rookie Wade Davis earns mixed reviews for first start 04/10/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 11, 2010 12:50pm]
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