Rays tales: Tampa Bay Rays have a pen full of fun

Lefty J.P. Howell is the self-described “weirdo” in a Rays bullpen full of interesting characters.
Lefty J.P. Howell is the self-described “weirdo” in a Rays bullpen full of interesting characters.
Published April 8, 2012

The key to a good bullpen is diversity.

The Rays feel they have that, even with closer-designate Kyle Farnsworth sidelined at least into May and Josh Lueke the current replacement: They have righties and lefties, experience and raw athleticism, hard and soft throwers, craftiness and talent.

But the better mix may be among the personalities, a diverse, eclectic, entertaining mix.

And for a breakdown, we'll let the most unique of them all, lefty — of course he's a lefty — J.P. Howell, take over:

Burke Badenhop

"He's starting to come out of his shell, and now we're seeing how cool he really is, and it's awesome. He's got sarcasm, and he's persistent. And he can talk."

Joel Peralta

"He's got short-man syndrome, but he plays at 6-4, 225. So he's allowed to have it. He's a competitor, and he's got a lot of heart."

Fernando Rodney

"He's a silent assassin. Big heart, teddy bear, but will be a protector of the whole pen. Like in hockey, he's the enforcer."

Wade Davis

"He's the new guy, so he reminds me of me in '08. No ego, never scared to ask a few questions. And he's a grinder, so he fits right in. He's country, but he's starting to pick up some swagger. He's got a little zest in him."


"A ball of energy ready to explode. He doesn't sit still, and the volume's a little loud. Youthful excitement."

Jake McGee

"MacGeezy — he's pretty much the fly on the wall. He's soaking it all in. He's extremely smarter than he looks. Extremely. And he's got amazing talent."


"Mister Farnsworth is Daddy. He's the one down there, he makes the rules, and we listen. And if you don't, you're in a choke hold. That's the way it works, that's the rules, and I agree with them: Mister Farnsworth said so."

And on himself

"Weird. Just a weirdo, trying to get some love. That's all."

Buddy Ball

Commissioner Bud Selig was in Miami for Wednesday's Marlins opener, and he was willing to talk about the Rays' stadium situation, but he passed on coming over to make what would have been his second regular-season appearance at the Trop in 15 seasons. Instead, MLB was repped by senior VPs Joe Garagiola Jr. and Pat Courtney.

Selig was quoted saying of the Rays, "They're playing in a stadium where they can't make it." But he also offered a tad of optimism, noting, "Five or 10 years ago, you could make a case this (Marlins Park) would never happen."

Rays Rumblings

Neat that the city of St. Petersburg took out an ad touting its support for the Rays "in their 14th season on the field." Neater had they gotten it right since it's their 15th season. … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg on the increased expectations for this season: "People picking us for the World Series may have lost their minds, but that's all right." … Team president Matt Silverman is off the eligible bachelor's list: After a romantic beachfront proposal, he's engaged to be married this December in Austin, Texas. … Triple-A Durham OF Kyle Hudson, acquired in trade from Texas, paired at wide receiver at the University of Illinois with the Bucs' Arrelious Benn. … Dan Johnson, he of the Game 162 homer heroics, is playing at Triple A for the White Sox, waiting for his next chance. … Seen at Friday's opener, and leaving before the fabulous finish: Former managing general partner Vince Naimoli, walking with a cane. … 3B Evan Longoria was 16th in's ranking of the top 500 players, LHP David Price 27th, RHP James Shields 54th, LHP Matt Moore 55th and 2B/RF Ben Zobrist 97th. The lowest Ray was C Jose Molina, at 491. … Sternberg and his extended family had their Passover seder at Tropicana Field after Friday's game. … Christian pop singer Julianna Zobrist, wife of Ben, has a new CD, Crazy Fearless, set for release Tuesday, via iTunes and elsewhere.

Got a minute? Burke Badenhop

Something you are scared of? My cooking. I'm horrible at cooking.

Go-to karaoke song? Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang, by Dr. Dre.

Favorite TV show? Of all time, Lost.

What would be your rapper name? DJ B-Hop.

Celebrity crush? Jennifer Aniston, she's a pretty good-looking gal.

BY MARC TOPKIN | Times staff writer