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Tampa Bay Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine credits more aggressive pitching for turnaround

BALTIMORE — RHP Andy Sonnanstine said the key to the turnaround in his past two starts was simply a matter of being aggressive, and he expects to do more of the same tonight.

So why wasn't he more aggressive earlier, when he was first throwing too many pitches over the middle of the plate then too many off the plate?

"It's a great question," Sonnanstine said. "I just feel like maybe I was trying to throw to too small of a spot. Now I'm more being aggressive in lanes in the zone.

"And plus in a couple of the games, I was missing too much in the zone. And when that happens, things can get out of control pretty quick, so that makes you more hesitant to be in the zone and more prone to be nit-picky."

Bottom line, he said: "I'm just throwing more quality strikes right now."

One thing Sonnanstine has done well is keep the ball in the yard, allowing only one home run (to the Yankees' Robinson Cano, on April 15) in 322/3 innings.

Power outage: OF Gabe Kapler's .222 average as the right-handed hitting part of the rightfield platoon is disappointing enough. Worse, he has yet to drive in a run in 45 at-bats (and is 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position).

There's only one player in the majors who has more at-bats without an RBI, White Sox INF Brent Lillibridge, at 55.

In a related note, C Dioner Navarro's .097 average (3-for-31) with runners in scoring position is the lowest among all AL qualifiers.

Pitching in: Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays discussed using Monday's off day to skip No. 5 starter Jeff Niemann and pitch James Shields but decided not to because "we like the way it sets up after that."

Miscellany: 1B Carlos Peña said he understood why he wasn't in the starting lineup Sunday (given his poor numbers against Boston starter Josh Beckett) and is looking forward to playing tonight. … With a 5.8 rating, Sunday's game was ESPN's highest-rated baseball game in the Tampa Bay market since a September 2005 Red Sox-Yankees game drew a 6.1. … The Rays are awaiting word on backup C Shawn Riggans' right shoulder exam by Dr. James Andrews. … Triple-A Durham INF Elliot Johnson is expected to miss a month after breaking a thumb. … Maddon, a native of Hazleton, Pa., will be honored today in a noon ceremony at the Pennsylvania state capital in Harrisburg. … The Rays will play 20 straight days before their next scheduled off day June 1.

Tampa Bay Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine credits more aggressive pitching for turnaround 05/11/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 9:35am]
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