Friday, April 2, 2010

Who’s On First?

Tomorrow, April 3rd, is a big day in Durham Bulls history. The Tampa Bay Rays are coming to town to play the Bulls in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Some more details here.

I have no doubt the Bulls front office is experiencing some of the same difficulties that I am, such as, Who are the Durham Bulls?

I’ve got it easy, I can just go to the game and get a program and find out.

They don’t. They’ve got to print the program.

Who will be on the roster is a really tough question to explore for a lot of reasons, but mostly because Saturday’s game is only an exhibition game, the last of the season, and the Rays do not have to make decisions just yet. The Rays have a game tonight in St. Pete (the Mets) and then have to get here for the 3 o’clock game tomorrow. They will go home to open against Baltimore on Tuesday the 6th.

As for who is traveling, that’s another question. But mostly it boils down to whether or not two players of interest to us stay with the Rays — Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez (Matt Joyce has been placed on the disabled list, so he doesn’t count, yet). Fortunately for Durham fans, against all logic and evidence to the contrary, the Rays are hanging on to Pat Burrell and Gabe Kapler. That means that we’re going to have the pleasure of watching players like Desmond Jennings, Justin Ruggiano, Dan Johnson, Fernando Perez and others at the beginning of the season.

I could make some guesses about the roster and the lineup, but that doesn’t make much sense if the answer will be there for all to see tomorrow. So let’s just limit ourselves to the headline question: Who’s on first?

Possibilities:

Chris Richard (36): Durham Bull stalwart of several seasons. Had a good year with the Bulls last year, but missed the championship run because he spent most of the last month with the Rays. Solid spring training stats with Rays, but didn’t spend much time there (wOBA - .516). Fan favorite (including WDBB). Stats. Interviewed yesterday on 620 The Buzz.

Dan Johnson (31): Played a good bit of first base for the Bulls in 2008, but mostly was a designated hitter. Couple of innings in left field and at third base. Reportedly spent a lot of time at third base in Japan last year. Spring training numbers with Rays not all that good (wOBA - .321). Stats.

Ryan Shealy (31) has been a first baseman/dh his entire career, mostly in minor leagues. Don’t know much about him. Like Johnson, nothing special while with Rays in the spring (wOBA - .336). Stats.

Joe Dillon (34) finished out the season with the Bulls last year playing all the infield positions, but mostly the corners. Had some time with the Rays this spring, but did not do well (wOBA - .199). Stats.

Answer to the question — quite possibly none of the above, although it does begin to look like first will be a geriatric corner this season.

One-liner of the day:

In an AP story about the Twins new stadium and the prospects of painfully cold games in April and May, fans are quoted as saying:

We’re Minnesotans. We own jackets

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