Friday, November 30, 2007

Rays, Percival announce contract

The Rays and pitcher Troy Percival finalized a two-year contract and announced it this morning. Percival fills the last spot on Tampa Bay's 40-man roster.

I'm just getting caught up with the day (just arrived in Columbia, S.C., for Tuskegee's Pioneer Bowl game Saturday), so I also see the Nationals shouldn't be interested in Elijah Dukes anymore. The Nats picked up Lastings Milledge in a trade.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A's claim Bankston; Percival, Rays close to deal

The Oakland A's grabbed former Biscuit Wes Bankston off waivers Wednesday. The Royals, who designated Bankston for assignment last week, also released Montgomery native Craig Brazell. Brazell won the minor-league home run championship this year.

The Rays are close to signing reliever Troy Percival to a two-year deal worth $8 million, according to Fox Sports. Percival was 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 34 games with the Cardinals in 2007.

Dukes in Tampa Bay's plans

Stadium plans, that is.

Bear with me. This is a reach. Please note the players high-fiving in the upper reaches of the artist's rendering of the new stadium. Please note the player on the left.

Isn't that No. 35? Isn't that Elijah Dukes? It resembles Dukes more than pitcher Dan Wheeler, who took 35 when he joined the team after Dukes had been deactivated. Plus, pitchers don't do high-fives at home plate.

I guess it could be a 25 (and probably is), but that wouldn't be any fun. I played with some programs I've never used to zoom in, but it loses all focus. Does anybody have a good, old-fashioned magnifying glass?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Delmon, Pridie traded to Minnesota

The Rays and Twins have consummated the six-player trade involving former Biscuits outfielder Delmon Young and Jason Pridie.

Tampa Bay receives pitcher Matt Garza, starting shortstop Jason Bartlett and minor-league pitcher Eduardo Morlan. Minnesota gets Young, Pridie and shortstop Brendan Harris.

Earlier reports of a potential trade had relief pitcher Juan Rincon headed from Minnesota to Tampa Bay and didn't include Morlan.

Morlan is in line to start 2008 with the Biscuits. He spent most of this year with high-Class A Fort Myers, where he was 4-3 with 18 saves and a 3.15 ERA in 41 appearances. He ended the season with two relief appearances for Class AA New Britain.

Morland, who turns 22 in March, is "one of the top five or 10 relief prospects in baseball," according to Rotoworld.

Stokes traded to Mets

Former Biscuits pitcher Brian Stokes has been traded to the New York Mets for cash. The Rays designated Stokes for assignment last week when they set their 40-man roster. Stokes, who was in Montgomery in 2005, was 2-7 with a 7.07 ERA in 59 relief appearances this year for Tampa Bay.

Delmon, Pridie to Twins?

The Rays and Twins are close to a trade that, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, would send Delmon Young, Jason Pridie and Brendan Harris to Minnesota and net Tampa Bay pitcher Matt Garza, shortstop Jason Bartlett and relief pitcher Juan Rincon.

Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman left today's ballpark announcement without commenting, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Rays unveil plans for waterfront stadium

Well, I would upload a picture, but my frail mind can't find a way. However, here's a link to several images on the new Web site touting the stadium.

The stadium, which will feature a retractable roof*, will cost an estimated $450 million and be part of a $1 billion redevelopment program for downtown St. Petersburg.

*--From the press release:
The ballpark design also includes a unique retractable roof which will shield the playing field and fans from the elements yet still maintain an intimate environment. The roof will be comprised of a light weatherproof fabric that will be pulled along cables that are suspended between arches on one end and a central mast structure on the other. It will take approximately 8 minutes to open or close the roof, and, even when the roof is deployed, the feel of an open-air ballpark will be maintained.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

3 minor-league free agents sign with Rays

Catcher Hector Gimenez, who was in the Houston organization, has signed a minor-league contract with the Rays, while utility man Chris Richard and outfielder Jon Weber have re-signed with Tampa Bay. Richard and Weber played at Durham last year.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Young unanimous among top rookies

Former Biscuit Delmon Young was a unanimous pick for the 49th annual Topps major-league rookie All-Star team. Major-league managers do the voting and Topps announced the results today.

Dodgers first baseman James Loney, Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun, Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young and Astros outfielder Hunter Pence were also unanimous selections. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, Royals pitcher Brian Bannister and Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima rounded out the team.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Auburn-Alabama -- LIVE BLOG

10:18 -- Time to go do some real work, but I'll leave you with this.

If, like $aban said Monday, good things can come from catastrophic events, he should consider tonight, his Alabama debut against Auburn, something like ...

10:14 -- Tide's Rolando McClain deserved a flag for that shove and is currently receiving the chewing he also richly deserves. He's a true freshman, so can't blame Shula for that.

10:10 -- Tiffin hits a 49-yard field goal. Tide has two timeouts left. Don't light those cigars yet. Bama isn't out of it.

9:56 -- Brandon Cox touchdown with 3:58 remaining. This one's over. Auburn's ahead 17-7. Isn't Alabama paying $4 million to Saban to win games like this?

9:51 -- Keith Saunders with your latest Alabama brain cramp. A roughing-the-passer penalty gives Auburn a first-and-goal at the 8. He's also a senior, so another one fans will blame on Shula.

9:42 -- Quentin Groves gets a good piece of J.P. Wilson. Call the play the Tide's Pickett's Charge.

9:38 -- Roy Upchurch's 9-yard run gave Alabama the ball across the 20. Keith Brown just caught a long pass to the 43. Those plays could be the breakout the Tide needed, like U.S. troops in the Battle of the Bulge.

9:32 -- Tide has third-and-5 at the 6. Play of the game. John Parker Wilson overthrows Nikita Stover and Bama has to punt out of the end zone. That was a potential game-changing moment. If Auburn scores a touchdown, this one is over.

9:30 -- Can't claim I thought of this. But has Under Armour been cheap with the Tigers? Nary a Tiger has sleeves. I might see one, actually.

9:28 -- We go to the fourth quarter. The excitement is so obvious.

9:27 -- Brain cramp, massive brain cramp by Matt Caddell. Why field that punt at the 5? Then, he fumbles it and the ball goes out of bounds at the 1. Oh, remember, Caddell is a senior. Blame Mike Shula for that one, of course.

9:23 -- Nice acting job by the punter. Good call, too.

9:22 -- Montez Billings just juked himself out of getting a first down. Grow a pair.

9:20 -- Auburn is backed up deep, just in front of the Alabama section. Think the Tigers feel surrounded? The French have some experience with that, too.

9:18 -- This one is settling into quite a stalemate ... a seige, depending on your perspective.

9:01 -- Wes Byrum tanks a 43-yard field goal. He had made six straight since a 46-yard miss at Arkansas.

8:59 -- Carl Stewart wide open. Cox misses him.

8:55 -- And the second half begins.

8:32 -- Cox is in for the halftime kneel. Time for both teams to have a friendly little truce and have a little off-time preparation.

8:31 -- Sweet interception by Jerraud Powers. Absolutely amazing.

8:27 -- Cox throws an interception that could give Alabama at least a halftime tie. Cox is also hurt on the play. Appears to be a right leg injury. Cox is helped off the field, but he's putting weight on his leg.

8:25 -- My toboggan is on.

8:22 -- Leigh Tiffin pulls it from 44.

8:21 -- Another brainy move by a quarterback. John Parker Wilson takes a sack and puts the Tide out of field-goal range. Roy Upchurch rescued the chance at three points.

8:13 -- Why go after that punt? Auburn should have put a return on.

8:07 -- Momentum change. Brandon Cox sits down on the job on two straight plays, courtesy of Lorenzo Washington and Simeon Castille. The sacks took Auburn out of field-goal range. Then, a quacker of a punt against the wind.

8:05 -- Third-down pass to Auburn's Ben Tate and Alabama's Simeon Castille pulled a matador maneuver. Ole. Tate was all ready to dole out a shot.

7:56 -- Touchdown, Alabama. There's Saban's Battle of Trenton. Now, he needs to follow up quickly and head to Princeton.

7:55 -- Glen Coffee is small, but he sure hits a hole hard. Dang, he's listed at 6-2 and 197 pounds. Looks smaller.

7:52 -- That draw looked like a 3-year-old drew it. Awful.

7:52 -- Second quarter is about to start and the wind has kicked up pretty good. It's now at the Tide's back.

7:45 -- Good call on the pass interference. Jonathan Wilhite screened off the receiver like he was going for a rebound.

7:43 -- Hey, Alabama has crossed midfield. A long kickoff return and an end around got them there.

7:39 -- Auburn field goal. If Alabama doesn't get in gear quickly, this one is about over. Total yards, at the moment -- Auburn 101, Alabama 11. It might be time for a desperate move by Saban ... like attacking Trenton, N.J.?

7:29 -- Auburn just declined an Alabama penalty, giving the Tide a second-and-8 rather than a first-and-15. Me thinks the Tigers are trying to send a message.

7:24 -- Touchdown, Auburn. Well, that didn't take long. About as long as England vs. Argentina from 1982.

7:17 -- Mario Fannin vs. Simeon Castille isn't fair. Fannin just juked Castille two ways from Sunday.

7:16 -- OK, it's as cold as a welldigger's heinie out here, but 21 of the 22 players on the field right now are bare-armed. Takes guts, guys. (And Alabama's Justin Woodall is the wimp.)

7:15 -- Second player already hurt. Auburn guy went down on the kickoff and now Alabama free safety Rashad Johnson.

7:09 -- Bo Jackson presented the game ball to the officials. Somewhere, Robbie Jones just looked to the sky.

7:07 -- It's on. It's time for war. The archiduke has been assassinated. Both teams are on the field. (Let's all thank Nick now for me being able to make these overly dramatic historical references.)

6:58 -- That Auburn drum major's big entrance move would get him laughed at in the SWAC.

6:57 -- Dadgumit. The Auburn band has returned. The Alabama band never left.

6:54 -- It's 49 degrees with winds from the east at 8 mph. Temps dropping to 45 during the game with a wind chill of 40. Glad I have a sweatshirt and an extra pair of socks with me.

6:53 -- The Eagle has landed.

6:50 -- Auburn is having a moment of silence for former Alabama running back Siran Stacy and his family for the tragic car accident earlier this week. Classy.

6:48 -- Ah, peace is at hand, just like on Sept. 10, 2001, Dec. 6, 1941, and April 18, 1775. At least Nick Saban would make such comparisons, right? Maybe, in the words of former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, "there will be peace in our time."

6:47 -- Alabama has left the field and won't have as much time for milk and cookies. On the way, Simeon Castille spiked his helmet twice.

6:44 -- Auburn has left the field, presumably for some pregame milk and cookies.

6:36 -- And I was hoping for a good, old-fashioned, midfield, pregame brawl. There are seven uniformed law enforcement officers stationed at various spots on the 50-yard line between the teams.

6:34 -- Didn't realize this is the first Iron Bowl to be played on Thanksgiving weekend since 1992. That was a Thanksgiving Day game and Alabama won 17-0. That weekend, a friend and I drove to Ole Miss and watched the Egg Bowl. That trip's story is long and sordid. I'll have to fill you in some other time.

6:29 -- Twas just announced that Auburn women's gymnastics tickets are available. Line starts at the ticket office in 10 minutes.

6:27 -- Hope is alive. Auburn's band is leaving. I haven't been to an Auburn game since 2004 -- nor an Alabama game, for that matter -- so this might just be a previously scheduled exit.

6:26 -- Just remembered. The Outback blimp is also making an appearance on the Plains tonight.

6:24 -- We regret to inform you that both bands have successfully entered the stadium.

6:19 -- Slight wind coming from the north, currently into the face of Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin for warmups. Tiffin just pumped one in from 50 without much problem. His season high is 51.

6:14 -- You think Auburn is loose. Patrick Lee was just dancing to another tune ... while awaiting a punt in warmups.

6:10 -- There are three bowls who have passes tonight: Chick-fil-A, Outback and Liberty. OK, the Senior Bowl is here, too, but they don't count.

6:05 -- Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" is going. Nice to hear the student section sing along with a classic from back in my day. I'm old.

6 p.m. -- It's an hour before kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium and there are five of us writers here representing your beloved Agonizer. Following in the example of Mr. Hornet, Josh Moon, and his blog, I thought "what the heck." I'm going to do a live blog of my own. Sure, me posting about football isn't quite what my lovely, widely ignored blog is about, but bear with me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rays add four to 40-man; Marlins add Miller

The Rays have added catcher John Jaso, outfielders Fernando Perez and Jason Pridie, and left-handed pitcher James Houser to their 40-man roster, shielding the four from next month's Rule 5 draft.

To make room, Tampa Bay traded outfielder Chris Snelling to the Phillies for cash considerations and designated pitchers Brian Stokes and Jon Switzer for assignment.

All except Snelling are former Biscuits. The Rays claimed Snelling off waivers from the Oakland A's on Oct. 25.

Jaso and Perez were expected to be protected and Pridie isn't a surprise. Houser was steady this season with Montgomery until a mid-August suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. The suspension will keep him out for the first month of the 2008 season.

Stokes was 2-7 with a 7.07 ERA in 59 relief appearances this season with Tampa Bay. Switzer appeared in 21 major-league games and compiled an 0-2 record with an 8.05 ERA.

LATE EDIT: The Marlins added Selma's Jai Miller to their 40-man roster, while the Royals pulled Montgomery native Craig Brazell and former Biscuits infielder Wes Bankston off theirs.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Team USA upsets Cuban juggernaut

The United States won its first International Baseball Federation World Cup since 1974 with today's 6-3 victory over Cuba. The Cubans had won the last nine World Cups.

Jayson Nix, the tournament's most outstanding player, and Jason Jaramillo had two RBIs each, while former Biscuits Justin Ruggiano and Evan Longoria were a combined 5-for-9 with three runs scored.

Nix, an infielder in the Colorado Rockies' system, was 12-of-31 with six extra-base hits, six RBIs and nine runs scored in the Americans' nine games.

Flag courtesy of I eagerly anticipate coverage in the Havana newspaper.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

USA, Cuba reach World Cup championship

Team UAS beat the Netherlands 5-0 in the IBF World Cup semifinals today and will face Cuba (of course) in Sunday's championship. Cuba downed Japan 5-3 in the other semifinal.

Russell County High's Colby Rasmus led off the first inning with a home run and scored twice. Matt Wright gave up four hits in six innings, while former Biscuit Justin Ruggiano capped a four-run eighth with a sacrifice fly.

Rasmus is 12-for-30 with seven walks and seven runs scored in eight World Cup games. He's hit five doubles and two homers.

Aroldis Chapman, 19, allowed three hits over eight innings and struck out 11 for the Cubans, who have won nine straight World Cup titles. The Americans beat the Cubans in Havana last year in an Olympic qualifying tournament.

The U.S. last won a World Cup in 1974.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Arizona Fall League crosses finish line

The Arizona Fall League schedule ended Thursday and will have its playoffs this weekend, but the Rays won't have to worry about that. The Scottsdale Scorpions didn't qualify for Saturday's championship game after finishing 16-16 and 4 1/2 games out of first place.

Reid Brignac -- .177 average, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs
John Jaso -- .256, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, 7 walks
Chris Nowak -- .240, 2 RBIs, played in only nine games
Evan Longoria -- .318 average before joining Team USA

Nick DeBarr -- 0-1, 2.45 ERA in 11 innings, .171 average against
Calvin Medlock -- 0-0, 1.62 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, 19 strikeouts, .127 OBA
Evan Meek -- 1-0, 0.93 ERA in 9 2/3 innings, 5 walks, .094 OBA
Mike Prochaska -- 3-2, 6.55 ERA in 6 starts (22 innings); debuted with a one-inning, six-run effort; threw five shutout innings Tuesday

I didn't forget about the locals.
Auburn's Michael Nix, with the Peoria Javelinas -- 3-0, 4.73 ERA in 13 1/3 innings
Goshen High's Wesley Wright, with the Peoria Saguaros -- 0-1, 5.06 ERA in 21 1/3 innings, 11 walks
Selma's Jai Miller with the Saguaros -- .233 average, nine RBIs, 33 strikeouts in 22 games

Americans beat South Korea, head to semifinals

Team USA beat South Korea 3-1 today to reach the semifinals of the IBF World Cup. The Americans will play the Netherlands on Saturday. Cuba (of course) and Japan will play in the other semifinal.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fla. governor likes Rays' stadium idea

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he's in favor of the Rays' stadium plans for the current site of Al Lang Field along the St. Petersburg waterfront. That led the team to release a statement from team president Matt Silverman: "The governor's words speak for themselves. We are very pleased to have his support."

Rays keep Reyes, cut ties with Norton

The Rays exercised their option on stopper Al Reyes and declined to do the same with Greg Norton today. They also put their three 60-day DL guys -- Rocco Baldelli, Shawn Riggans and Ben Zobrist -- back on the 40-man roster, as required at this point.

Reyes had 26 saves this year for Tampa Bay. Norton, who had a rehab stop with the Biscuits for a knee injury, could still re-sign with the Rays. Had Norton not went down with a knee injury on the final day of spring training, Carlos Pena (.282, 46 home runs, 121 RBIs) would not have made the team.

Ruggiano, Team USA rough on Taiwan

Former Biscuit Justin Ruggiano homered twice in Team USA's 10-7 win over host Taiwan today at the IBF World Cup.

Ruggiano hit a three-run homer in the seventh to break a 6-6 tie and clubbed a solo shot in the ninth. He was 3-for-5 with five RBIs and the Americans clinched their pool's top seed. They'll face South Korea on Friday in the quarterfinals.

On Tuesday, I was in a football-induced haze and forgot to mention that ... Dodgers third baseman Andy LaRoche knocked in three runs and Russell County High's Colby Rasmus scored twice in the USA's 4-2 victory over South Africa.

In your Nestor Perez update, he had two RBIs today in Spain's 4-3 loss to Japan and was 0-for-2 in Tuesday's 19-1 setback against Mexico. Perez had a .211 average and Spain finished 1-6.

The biggest surprise today was the Netherlands' 2-1 win over Cuba. The Cubans' last World Cup loss was in 2001.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Four Biscuits Topps in Double-A

Biscuits made up a third of the Topps Double-A All-Star team that was released today: third baseman Evan Longoria, catcher John Jaso and pitchers Chris Mason and Dale Thayer.

Russell County High's Colby Rasmus, an outfielder in the St. Louis system, also made the team.

Mason also was named the level's most spectacular pitcher because of his Class AA-best 2.54 ERA.

Monday, November 12, 2007

40-man decisions await for Rays

The Rays have to finalize their 40-man roster in the next week, which will leave a few former Biscuits available for next month's Rule 5 draft.

Basically, the 2004 draft class will be exposed to the Rule 5 draft, unless they're on the 40-man roster ... or were 18 when they were drafted. By my vast methods of (shaky) deduction, that leaves 21 Tampa Bay minor-leaguers who will be potentially exposed next month.

Of the 21, I could only imagine four that teams would be interested in. A Rule 5 draftee has to stay on the active major-league roster for the entire next season or he can be returned to his previous team.

Pitcher Nick DeBarr was taken last season by the Boston Red Sox, but the Sox returned him to the Rays in spring training. Outfielder Jason Pridie went through the same thing two years ago with the Minnesota Twins. Outfielder Fernando Perez and catcher John Jaso are also currently unprotected.

The Rays currently have 36 players on their 40-man roster and three others on the 60-day disabled list who will have to be added to the 40-man before they finalize it. So, you make the move.

Who would you protect and who on the current 40-man roster would you dump?

NOV. 14 ADDITION: I now imagine five possibilities. Evan Meek will also need to be protected and he could be intriguing. He's allowed three hits and one earned run in nine appearances the Arizona Fall League.

Delmon second in AL rookie voting

Former Biscuits outfielder Delmon Young finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting to Boston's Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia drew 24 of 28 first-place ballots and was listed second on the other four. Young had three first-place votes.

Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who played for Huntsville in the 2006 Southern League championship series, won the NL award.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Americans hit five home runs, drub Spain

Former Jacksonville Sun Andy LaRoche homered twice, while former Biscuit Evan Longoria and Russell County High's Colby Rasmus also added circuit clouts in Team USA's 12-2 win over Spain today.

The Americans (4-1), who hit five home runs, take Monday off and engage South Africa on Tuesday at the IBF World Cup in Taiwan.

Rasmus' three-run, inside-the-park home run highlighted Team USA's game-ending, seven-run seventh. LaRoche and Longoria also hit two-run homers in the seventh. LaRoche also had a two-run shot in the first.

Former Biscuits shortstop Nestor Perez was 0-for-2 for the Spanish.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Setting sun shines on Americans

Dodgers outfielder Delwyn Young hit a three-run homer in the first and former Biscuit Evan Longoria hit a two-run double in the eighth to give Team USA a 5-1 win over Japan on Saturday at the World Cup.

The Americans, after Friday's surprising loss to Italy, are 3-1 in pool play and face Spain on Sunday. With former Biscuit Nestor Perez finishing 1-for-3, the Spanish lost 8-4 to host Taiwan on Saturday.

Rays pine for bay ballpark

The Rays have ideas for a new, open-air stadium by the bay on the site of their current spring home, Al Lang Stadium, to replace drab dome Tropicana Field. The team is moving its spring operations to Port Charlotte, Fla., after next year.

It would be a tight fit, but what a gorgeous view. (The picture at right gives you an idea.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Italians take Americans down a notch

Italy remained unbeaten in the IBF World Cup with a 6-2 win over Team USA today. Justin Ruggiano homered in a two-run third that cut the Italian lead to 3-2. The Americans face Japan on Saturday.

Nestor Perez's Spain did beat South Africa 7-4 for the Spaniards' first victory. Perez was 1-for-3.

We have a Nestor Perez sighting

It was a fruitless search -- sans the United States and Canada -- for team rosters from the IBF World Cup, until today.

The International Baseball Federation's Web site finally started putting box scores and such to go with the games, here in the third day of action, allowing me to examine the other teams. Low and behold, on Spain's roster, is Nestor Perez, the native Cuban who played for the Biscuits in 2004.

Perez was 0-for-2 in Spain's 11-1 loss to Italy on Thursday. He was 1-for-3 Wednesday in a 6-0 loss to Panama.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Base coaches to don head protection

General managers decided today to require first- and third-base coaches to wear head protection on the final day of the GM meetings in Orlando. That's in response to Class AA Tulsa coach Mike Coolbaugh's death in July after being hit in the neck by a line drive.

They didn't specify what protection -- full double-eared helmet, no-eared helmet, hat liner? -- and will decide that at next month's winter meetings in Nashville.

Longoria homers for Team USA

Former Biscuit Evan Longoria singled in the first run and homered to cap the United States' 7-0 win over Panama today in the IBF World Cup in Taiwan.

Andy LaRoche was 3-for-4 with four RBIs for the Americans, who recorded their second shutout in two tournament games. Matt Wright gave up three hits over six innings, while Russell County's Colby Rasmus, the U.S. leadoff hitter, scored twice and had an RBI.

The Americans face Italy on Friday.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

U.S. wins World Cup opener

Former Biscuits outfielder Justin Ruggiano scored the first run and Monroeville's Chris Booker picked up the save in the United States' 3-0 win over Mexico today in the IBF World Cup in Taiwan.

Ruggiano was hit by a pitch with two outs in the fifth and, after a single and walk, scored on a wild pitch. Russell County's Colby Rasmus walked before Jayson Nix hit a two-run single.

Rasmus finished 2-for-4 and Evan Longoria 1-for-4.

The Americans face Panama on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

IBF World Cup starts Wednesday

Team USA faces Mexico on Wednesday (4 a.m. Central time) in its IBF World Cup opener in Taiwan.

Former Biscuits Evan Longoria and Justin Ruggiano, and Alabamians Colby Rasmus and Chris Booker are suiting up for the U.S. Ruggiano was a replacement pick after Cincinnati's Jay Bruce couldn't go.

Longoria is the probable starter at third base.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NY Post: Rays could shop Kazmir

The logic makes sense. If teams will hand the Twins a mother lode for one year of stud pitcher Johan Santana, the Rays could get a similar deal for three years of Scott Kazmir. Santana is a free agent after 2008 and Kazmir won't be. Mets fans are still a little raw over the fleecing they took when they gave up Kazmir in 2004.

What kind of message would trading Kazmir be to Tampa Bay fans? The Devil Rays have tried reaching out, including renaming the team this week -- they're dropping Devil from the nickname. Moving Kazmir now would be a slap.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rays keep pitching coach Hickey

The Devil Rays are keeping pitching coach Jim Hickey, who jeopardized his employment with a DUI just after the season.

Hickey pleaded no contest Monday to a DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. He has to perform 50 hours of court-ordered community service and will do more through the Rays, according to a press release.

"I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue coaching for the Rays,” Hickey said in a release. “Last month, I let down my family, the organization, and the Tampa Bay community. I am truly sorry for my actions."