This Week in Rays Baseball: The Fan Fest Edition

This sure is a nice sight to see. (Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times)

This sure is a nice sight to see. (Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times)

Today we bring you a new segment titled, This Week in Rays Baseball. In this reoccurring segment, we’ll (attempt to) sum up the weekly happenings surrounding your Tampa Bay Rays. We’ll typically do as much on Sunday’s, though there’s no time like the present to kick the whole thing off. In the words of Rancid, “Let’s Go!”

Tuesday brought us some of the best news in months; The Rays pitchers and catchers (along with a few others) reported to Port Charlotte. We also got clarification/word on a few players in Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman’s first presser from Port Charlotte.

First off, Joel Peralta had an, ahem, fairly active week. Peralta not only missed his first workout due to a sore neck incurred when he went to pick up sandwiches, but news broke that he might not pitch in the WBC as initially reported. We’d like to thank Yahoo News for their crack reporting on the sandwich/Camero related injury.  As for the WBC, Peralta will speak with Maddon and Friedman on the matter. It’s assumed that the Rays might be a bit concerned about the workload, and for good reason. Peralta has worked 65 inning plus in each of the last two seasons, and he’s getting a bit long in the tooth.

After receiving off-season surgery to correct his persistent hamstring issues, third baseman Evan Longoria expects to be ready to start the season on time. In addition, Roger Mooney of TBO tweeted, “Friedman said team will be a little more proactive in giving Longoria days off to save his legs.” Hey, if that keeps him healthy, I’m cool with it. The Rays do have depth to cover third base thanks to the recent acquisition of Mike Fontenot, as well as Sean Rodriguez.

We here at X-Rays Spex headquarters were pleased as peach to find out that Alex Cobb has the fourth starter in the rotation all but locked down. JoeMa was quoted as saying that Cobb is, “Pretty much ensconced” in the rotation with David Price, Matt Moore, and Jeremy Hellickson. The battle for the final spot in the rotation comes down to Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Niemann, and Chris Archer.

With BJ Upton out of the picture, Maddon noted that, Desmond Jennings will hit leadoff, but hasn’t decided on whether Longoria will hit third or fourth. He’s still sorting out rest of order. Though Jennings’ production was down last season, he has good contact ability, knows how to take a walk, and is fast; three qualities of a good lead-off man.

Next on the docket, we bid farewell to Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac, both of whom were picked up by the Royals and Rockies respectively. Both players were DFA’d in order to make room for the Rays three recent re-signings and acquisitions. Johnson will make Kansas City home after becoming part of the Shields/Davis trade which gave us Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, among others. Brignac was traded to Colorado for cash considerations and a player to be named.

The much lauded uber prospect, Wil Myers, made his way to Port Charlotte this week. And though it’s very reasonable to assume that Myers will start the season in Triple-A (Joe Maddon has said as much), there’s still a level of excitement that came with his imminent arrival down south. Derek Shelton, the Rays primary hitting coach, was quoted as saying,

It’s impressive. And I think the thing that’s the most impressive is the bat speed … and the way the ball comes off his bat. You can see it not only when he’s hitting on the field, but even off a tee. You don’t see very many people that generate that much bat speed. First day, it’s exciting to see.

The good folks over at DRaysBay put together a piece on the release of a few notable projections; PECOTA, Zips, and Whelk’s Regressed Splits tool. What d’ya know? James Loney’s wOBA is projected to be over .299 vs LHP and RHP as per PECOTA and Zips. Ahem… perhaps they wouldn’t need to platoon first.

Lots of rumors surrounding the potential of a two-year contract extension between the Rays and Fernando Rodney have been swirling of late. And though the Rays tried to, again, squash those rumors this week, by mentioning that a deal isn’t in the works, the old adage where there’s smoke there’s fire may apply. Fernando had an impressive 2012, and one could imagine Rodney making a lot more than $2.5MM on the open market at the end of the season if he performs even half as well in 2013. Steve Kinesella of DRaysBay posed a question this week: Will happiness trump dollars for Fernando Rodney. He went on to note,

A big reason may very well be that the maximum dollar grab may be secondary to happiness. After all the last two seasons with the Tigers and his two years in Los Angeles were to say the least turbulent and last year with the Rays had to seem like a utopia of serenity in comparison.

You can read Kinsella’s piece in its entirety here.

Finally, Fan Fest, Fan Fest, Fan Fest! Don’t forget to make your way to the Trop tomorrow morning for Rays Fan Fest, the 2013 edition. It’s free, there’s free parking, and it’s fun. Click here for more information. We’re planning on taking lots of photos tomorrow, and we’ll post them shortly after Fan Fest. How nice would it be if a contention of Pinellas County citizens made their presence known tomorrow.

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