Despite a two-out, ninth inning solo blast off the bat of Joey Butler, the Tampa Bay Rays dropped the Grapefruit League opener to the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 3-2, Thursday afternoon. All is not lost, however; Nathan Karns was solid in his two innings of work, there were more than a few defensive gems in the game that stayed scoreless into the seventh inning, and Butler turned out to be the Rays offense.
Karns was efficient in his two innings of scoreless work, walking one while ringing up another — all on 21 total pitches. Karns got some defensive help from Evan Longoria in the first inning after Longo caught a shallow fly-ball left field, then quickly turned and gunned down Steve Clevenger at first base to end the inning (36 seconds in on the highlight video below). As Cash noted in his post game interview, Karns, “Seemed to pitch up in the zone, but made a couple pitches when it counted.”
Karns spoke with the media following his start:
Kevin Jepsen, Brad Boxberger and Enny Romero followed Karns, and each were impressive (their lines are below). Both Jepsen and Romero topped out at 96 mph, with the latter striking out a pair of Orioles.
Kevin Jepsen 1 IP/1 H/0 R/0 BB/0 K
Brad Boxberger 1 IP/1 H/0 R/1 BB/0 K
Enny Romero 1 IP/1 H/0 R/0 BB/2 K
Defensively speaking, the Rays were on point Thursday. Besides the above mentioned play by Longoria, Asdrubal Cabrera made a beautiful ranging play, snaring a soft liner in the fourth. Who said his range was diminished? Likewise, Hak-Ju Lee — trying to get back on top of his game — made an outstanding ranging play of his own in the top of the eighth. So what if he had a throwing error on the very next play. But Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Guyer easily made the best defensive plays of the game.
In the third inning David DeJesus misplayed a fly ball at the wall, thanks to the wind and the high sun. Kevin Kiermaier chased the ball down, as it bounded toward center, and threw out Chris Parmalee at third base (54 seconds in on the highlight video below). Guyer made his heads-up play in the fourth inning when he caught Evereth Cabrera off guard rounding second base. Guyer threw the ball behind the bag and the Rays’ Cabrera snagged the ball, and tagged out the Orioles’ Cabrera (1:12 in on the highlight video below).
Meet Joey Butler, the Rays offense
Tampa Bay scored two runs on seven hits Thursday. Joey Butler, former teammate of Kevin Cash, drove in both of those runs on an RBI double in the seventh, and a solo bomb in the ninth to the deepest part of the Charlotte Sports Park. Butler has always been a strikeout candidate, his career 42.9% K% speaks to that. However, he cut down his strikeouts in an incredibly small sample size from Triple-A last season, and if there’s evidence that this is a trend, Butler could be an intriguing piece of depth for the Rays.
Marc Topkin’s (Tampa Bay Times) video report from the Grapefruit League opener follows.
The New What Next
RHP Jake Odorizzi will get the start Friday vs. Minnesota, in the first game of the Knutson Classic.
Rays 3/6/15 Starting Lineup
- The Rays made official the signing of RHP Jim Miller to a minor league deal. Miller will join the competition for bullpen spot.
- A pair of David DeJesus relevant tweets were posted by Topkin, Thursday. File them under The More You Know:
FWIW, DeJesus playing well in OF this spring would definitely help increase his trade value as #Rays seek to move him
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 5, 2015
“@ElliotWotton3: with Pence out with a broken forearm, do you expect any potential interest in DeJesus from SF??” >>> makes sense
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 6, 2015
- The St. Pete City Council passed three resolutions that directly apply to the Rays in their search for a new stadium. And while it’s hard to find any news about the resolutions on the web, Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium) posted the resolutions as they appeared on the council’s agenda before the meeting:
(a) Resolution of the City Council of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida expressing its desire to keep St. Petersburg the home of the Tampa Bay Rays for decades to come.
(b) Resolution of the City Council of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida requesting
Administration to provide City Council with a proposed scope of work and cost to retain a consultant to determine the economic impact to the City of St. Petersburg from
- the Tampa Bay Rays remaining in St. Petersburg beyond the term of the use agreement,
- the Tampa Bay Rays relocating to Hillsborough County following the term of the use agreement or prior to the end of the term of the use agreement subject to City Council approval, and
- the Tampa Bay Rays relocating to a location outside the Tampa Bay region following the term of the use agreement or prior to the end of the term of the use agreement subject to City Council approval.
(c) Resolution of the City Council of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida requesting the Tourist Development Council to
- propose an amendment to the Tourist Development Plan to provide that an allocation of one percent of the five percent tourist tax revenues be available to finance the construction of a new stadium in St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Rays unless it is concluded that the Tampa Bay Rays will not build a new stadium in St. Petersburg, and
- recommend such proposed amendment to the Tourist Development Plan to the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.
In short, the council voted to keep the Rays within the city limits of St. Petersburg, agreed upon the hiring of a consultant to determine the Rays economic impact to the City of St. Petersburg, and promised that one percent of the five percent tourist tax revenues would be available to finance the construction of a new stadium in St. Petersburg unless it is concluded that the team will not build a new stadium within the city limits (including any land that would be annexed by the city).