As opening weeks go, the Rays couldn't have had much worse. From April 1 through Friday afternoon, they lost their first six games of the season, set major-league marks for offensive ineptness, saw star 3B Evan Longoria go on the disabled list for at least three weeks with an oblique strain and were stunned by the "retirement" of DH Manny Ramirez after a positive drug test, leaving a major hole in their lineup. It was so bad, it would have to be considered among the worst weeks in the history of a franchise that, especially through its first 10 years, knew all about bad. For comparison's sake, here are a half-dozen others that were pretty miserable:
Seven straight losses — the last 18-2 — were only the beginning. Their highest-paid player, Aubrey Huff, said, among other things: "I've never seen anything stink like this." And their manager, Lou Piniella, publicly ripped the incoming Stuart Sternberg ownership group, leading to his conveniently negotiated departure at the end of the season.
Over seven games, Evan Longoria's right wrist was broken by a J.J. Putz pitch (he missed 30 games), Carl Crawford popped a tendon in his right hand that required surgery (he sat out until the playoffs) and Troy Percival limped off the mound with a right knee injury (he struggled for the rest of the season).
Late May 2009
Lost five straight games, sat through four rain delays and put five players on the disabled list: their closer (Troy Percival), No. 2 starter (Scott Kazmir), lefty reliever (Brian Shouse) and starting shortstop (Jason Bartlett) and second baseman (Akinori Iwamura).
The reigning team MVP, CF Quinton McCracken, crashed into the outfield wall and tore his right ACL, All-Star RHP Rolando Arrojo went on the DL, and LHP Tony Saunders sustained one of the most horrific-to-watch injuries, breaking his left arm while delivering a pitch then crumbling to the ground.
Five players left games with injuries, including Aubrey Huff, starting INFs Julio Lugo and Jorge Cantu plus reserve INF Luis Ordaz and reliever Jesus Colome (who was then released), joining two others on the DL.
A losing streak reached a team-record 15 games, longest in the majors since the Orioles' 21-gamer to start the 1988 season, including 10 losses by one or two runs, three straight when they led with two outs in the ninth and one in which they were no-hit by Boston's Derek Lowe.
Tim Dierkes, of the always informative mlbtraderumors.com, took off on last week's question of a long-term contract for David Price and, looking at his accomplishments and market comparables, came up with an interesting guesstimate: $95 million over seven years. … Wonder if 2010 top draft picks Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson will feel whatever extra money they got by holding out is worth it as they spend the next two months in extended spring training in Port Charlotte rather than playing A ball? … Advance scouting coordinator Mike Calitri, who compiles his reports from video and stats rather than in person, is traveling with the Rays this season, increasing communication with the coaches — and adding an extra batting practice thrower. … Ex-Ray Rafael Soriano, left, already caused controversy in New York, bolting the Yankees clubhouse without talking to the media after blowing a lead Tuesday, though manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman gave him a pass in part cause he came from lil' old Tampa Bay. Said Cashman: "He's new to this market, so like everything else, you live and you learn." … Latest addition to the Rays' collection of arms experts: Bob Cluck, former pitching coach for the Astros, A's and Tigers, who was hired as a pro scout. … Is it relevant that Mike Ozanian, the Forbes editor who wrote about the supposed push for contraction of the Rays (and personally endorsed it, adding "I could not agree more") does a show on the Yankees-owned YES Network?
Got a minute? Elliot Johnson
I really enjoy Family Guy. It's very fun.
Band you'd most like to be on stage with?
Nirvana. Though Dire Straits would be a lot of fun, too.
A very nice rib eye, medium, with a baked potato, everything on it, and some sort of greens.
Circuit City. It was awful. They treat you like dirt.
With your wife Nicole's permission, dream date?