Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rays Visit, Briefly

Rashad Eldridge reaches for Upton line drive in 2nd.

Durham Bulls 6, Tampa Bay Rays 9
Bulls Wrap, Rays Wrap, Box

That was fun. Hats off to the Durham Bulls marketing guys because the park was full of fans, and knowledgeable ones at that. The wraps have got the game story, which leave to me to point out some of the trivia and oddities. That is, the really important stuff.

The top of the 2nd was a mess and it wasn’t all Hellickson’s fault. First, Dan Johnson, playing third, dropped a line drive, then picked it up and made a bad throw, putting Longoria on first. Then with a shift on for Pena, you’ve got a shortstop and a third baseman trying to pull off a 6-5-3 double play around second base. Didn’t work. So Pena’s on first base on a fielder’s choice. Rashad Eldridge made a beautiful play (see photo) on Upton’s liner into left field, only it wasn’t pretty enough since the ball popped out when he hit the ground, so Pena’s on second, Upton’s on first. Now Hellickson does make a mistake and walks Pat Burrell to load the bases. Then Shoppach hits a popup over short that just kept drifting and drifting and drifting until it made it over the Blue Monster for a grand slam. I won’t go into the rest of the inning. It got way uglier and much of it (a walk, two singles, and a double) was Hellickson’s fault.

Great to see Fernando Perez here. Interesting to see him batting right against a right-hander. Have always wondered why the Rays have insisted all these years that Perez develop himself into a switch-hitter. We’ll have to see if it will work out. Batting leadoff yesterday he didn’t do all that great, 1 for 5 with 2 K’s.

Yesterday’s infield was what may kindly be called “veteran”. Angel Chavez, 28, started at shortstop; Dan Johnson, 30, at third; Joe Dillon, 34, at second; Chris Richard, 35, at first. Rumor has it that Elliot Johnson, 26, and Hank Blalock, 29, will be joining soon, but they are hardly going to lower the average age or lighten the footsteps of the infielders as they run out a bunt or chase after a grounder. Mild worry, but still …

After two innings all of the Rays stars, other than the pitchers, disappeared. We got to see Ryan Royster, Matt Hall, Emeel Salem, Shawn O’Malley, John Matulia, and Scott Cursi. For the most part, I'd bet even the guys over at Rays Prospects wouldn’t know who these players are. The exception was infielder Matt Hall who was greeted with great enthusiasm by all the “in the know” fans. Matt, of course, was the 2009 recipient of the Watching Durham Bulls Baseball Moonlight Graham Award. His appearance in a Rays uniform was duly noted by at least one fan.

The Herald Sun reports that Rashad Eldridge is OK after hitting the wall and leaving the game in the 5th.

I’m not sure what either the Rays or the Bulls will be up to over the next few days. The Rays open against Baltimore sometime next week. The Bulls go to Norfolk to open against the Tides on April 8th.

Last comment: Those Rays uniforms are some kind of ugly, aren't they? Too bad.


  1. Agree that the game was fun yesterday. It was good to see former Bulls and some of our current favorites. It was also good to see that the crowd was a lot of Bulls regulars and not just a lot of people to see a major league team (the big cheer for Reid was a pretty good sign that a lot of the crowd had been to numerous Bulls games in the last year or so).

    It looks like EJ cleared waivers and will be coming back to us. I am sure it is some mixed emotions for him, but hopefully he can help out our infield defense.

    All in all, a nice day at the DBAP.

  2. Oh, and I completely agree about the uniforms the Rays wore yesterday. But, to give them a little credit, they aren't the jerseys they wear in the regular season.

  3. Got Jeff Niemann's autograph before the game. He's huge! I can't imagine having to face him in the batter's box.

  4. Neil said no more switch hitting for Fernando due to the injuries. That's fine by me. Just bunt righties instead.

  5. I very carefully prepared for the game ... and just as carefully left my radio behind at home. So missed Neil's comments. I guess that goes with the shoulder injuries piece of Fernando's troubles. I've never quite understood the math regarding his switch-hitting, though. But never ran the numbers regarding his on-base performance left v right. Guess it doesn't matter any more if he's going to bat right-handed. Or is this just during his recovery?