Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year


Here's the official end-of-year blog for 2008 from the Biscuit Crumbs' staff. Happy New Year everybody and, for tonight's festivities, let's be careful out there.

A review of my 2008 ...
561 blog entries, counting this one
464 newspaper stories, saved on my laptop (doesn't count stories written at office computer)

Yes, I went back and counted. I needed something to do while watching two hours of Beverly Hills 90210 -- TOS (the original series), not TNG (the next generation piece of crap) -- on SoapNet.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sweet as Sugar: MLB Network on local schedule

Charter's tiff with WCOV that may keep you from watching the Alabama-Utah Sugar Bowl won't keep you from the new MLB Network.

The MLB Network will make its debut at 5 p.m. Jan. 1 and you can find it on most Montgomery-area cable networks, according to the network.

Charter 320
Knology not carrying
Bright House carrying it, but channel to be announced
DirecTV 213
Dish not carrying

They were running a promo (over and over and over) when I looked last night. Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series is the opening-night programming highlight.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pirates interested in Baldelli

The Pittsburgh Pirates are courting free-agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli, who had a rehab stop with the Biscuits last year.

The Pirates have also included former Auburn pitcher Chris Bootcheck and former Alabama infielder Andy Phillips among their non-roster invitees to spring training.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bonjour de la part de la Louisiana Superdome

Bonjour tout le monde from the Superdome, site of tonight's New Orleans Bowl between Troy and Southern Miss. Yep, you'll be subjected to periodic updates at my whim. Game starts a little after 7.

I've done my best to sample the cuisine and give it a hearty endorsement if anyone is headed this way next week for the Sugar Bowl.

They're expecting a record New Orleans Bowl crowd tonight -- with a little more than 30,000. We'll see how many more USM fans are here than the Troy throng.

5:44 -- Former Troy safety Brannon Condren is in attendance. He's been practically all over the NFL this year: Colts, Rams, Dolphins and now the Colts again. "It's been a wild year," he said during warmups. Condren doesn't get many chances to see his college team. "I had a few days off and wanted to come to the game," Condren said. "This is the only game I'll get to see all year, so I came here to watch them one last time."

7:13 -- Safe bet that USM has more fans here than the Trojans. Troy did help make its fans stand out. Fans on Troy's side of the field found New Orleans Bowl towels in their seats when they arrived.

7:21 -- Jorrick Calvin won two prep state championships at the Superdome. Deflecting a pitch and returning it for a touchdown on the first play of the game shows he may still like the place.

7:29 -- Flea flicker makes it 7-7. USM stud receiver DeAndre Brown was a decoy and never moved as New Orleans native Gerald Baptiste scooted unaccosted past the Troy secondary. Brown caught a 9-yard pass on the drive's first play and set the USM single-season record for catches.

7:43 -- Brown just broke his left leg.

7:44 -- He was trying for a long pass and being covered by Troy's Chris Bowens. Bowens went to help him up and quickly started motioning for the trainers. They're already comparing it in the press box to the Tyrone Prothro injury at Alabama. Unfortunately, you'll be seeing that on TV for a while. Horrific.

7:46 -- Brown is doing an Eagle wave as he's taken out on a stretcher.

?:?? -- Touchdown, Troy. Kennard Burton scraped his foot inbounds and the replay official gave Troy a touchdown and a 14-7 lead. It's his first touchdown catch. The Trojans have had 12 players catch TD passes this year, a national best.

8:09 -- End of a marathon first quarter.

8:14 -- William Spight, the pride of Jeff Davis High, sets up a touchdown with an 18-yard catch. Damion Fletcher went 8 yards on the next play to score. 14-14.

8:24 -- Troy QB Levi Brown with an admirable scramble marathon. He went almost to the left sideline, then rolled all the way back to the right sideline and, you guessed it, took a 2-yard sack.

8:33 -- Troy linebacker Boris Lee appeared to hurt his left hand while taking down the USM QB. He has gone to the locker room for -- total guess here -- an X-ray. I'd guess he may have a finger issue.

8:36 -- Lee is back, so likely no X-rays. Some extra tape?

8:40 -- Xavier Moreland just had his first carry, just more than two weeks after breaking a collarbone. His 6-yard gain gave Troy a first-and-goal at the 4.

8:43 -- Troy turns the situation into a 20-yard field goal. 17-14. DuJuan Harris isn't having his best game: 23 yards on eight carries, including a fumble on the first play after Moreland's run.

8:54 -- USM kicks a field goal on the last play of the half. 17-17. An offensive pass interference prevented a likely touchdown on a halfback pass. Looked like a good call. Receiver Johdrick Morris blocked a DB before going out on his route.

9:05 -- DeAndre Brown went to nearby Tulane hospital and has been diagnosed with a fractured tibia. Here's the live blog by Patrick Magee, the USM beat writer for the Hattiesburg American of the Gannett family.

9:22 -- Jerrel Jernigan has tied the 40-year-old Troy season record for receptions. He has 72.

9:24 -- Well, he broke it. So much for Danny Grant's mark in 1968.

9:41 -- Nice little drive (11 plays, 63 yards) nets Troy a field goal and a 20-17 lead.

9:43 -- This game is going long enough that my sidebar for first edition has been banged. If you live far outside Montgomery, check for it on montgomeryadvertiser.com. If you get the city edition, you'll get to read all about it.

9:46 -- DeAndre Brown's injury is already on YouTube. Warning, warning, warning. It's gross.

9:49 -- A Cornelius Williams punt return starts a Troy drive at the USM 9. Jerrel Jernigan's 6-yard TD run makes it 27-17.

10:16 -- Troy got caught with its pants down. USM sent in a big package for a fourth-and-two play at the Troy 35. Troy responded with a goalline defense. Oops. QB Austin Davis rolls out and hits tight end Jonathan Massey, who totes Terence Moore into the end zone. Troy's lead now 27-24.

1:25 a.m. -- Just got back to the hotel from the game. Gotta love games that end at 10:53 p.m. Finished notes and filed those at 11:05. Wrote a quoteless game story for first edition and filed at 11:23. The Troy press conference was during that time, so I had to track down the people I wanted (still didn't get Jerrel Jernigan) for our city edition. Returned to press box at 11:55. Rewrote the first item in my notebook at 12:02 a.m. Rewrote the game story and filed at 12:29. Jernigan was the first item in the notes for first edition, but I wrote a separate (very short) story for the city and filed it at 12:38.

Great game. That would have been fun to just watch.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You've reached offseason's midway point

Today officially marked the halfway point between the end of the 2008 season and the beginning of the 2009 season. Congratulations. There are 110 days left until the Biscuits open up against West Tenn.

Have a Crossing the Line ceremony at your own risk.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Timmons eyes return to Montgomery

New Biscuits hitting coach Ozzie Timmons isn't a first-timer when it comes to Montgomery.

Timmons played for the University of Tampa in the 1990 Division II World Series at Paterson Field. He was a two-time All-American for the Spartans.

"We weren't close to winning it all, but it was a good experience," Timmons said. "I'm looking forward to seeing the stadium we played in."

Timmons went on to a 16-year playing career that included time in the major leagues. He retired after spending the 2006 season with independent Atlantic City and joined the Tampa Bay coaching staff the next year. The 38-year-old debuted at short-season Hudson Valley and spent this season at low-Class A Columbus.

The Rays thought enough of him to send him to the Arizona Fall League this year. The experience will help him with the Biscuits, he said.

"The guys who have reached Double-A already have the routines they want to do before the game," Timmons said. "I'm just there to make sure they keep it."

Biscuits first baseman Rhyne Hughes was also in Arizona. After a disappointing .268 regular season, Hughes had a .394 average and 20 extra-base hits in Arizona.

"He was locked in," Timmons said. "I didn't have to tinker with him at all. Everything they threw up there, he hit hard."

Rays announce staffs ... except for Hot Rods, Renegades

The new Bowling Green Hot Rods will an extra wait to hear their first coaching staff. The Rays announced their staffs today for each of their minor-league teams except for the Hot Rods and short-season Hudson Valley Renegades.

It's Billy Gardner, Neil Allen, Ozzie Timmons and Lee Slagle in Montgomery.

Former Biscuits player Dan DeMent will make his coaching debut at Rookie Princeton. Ben Oglivie, this year's Montgomery hitting coach, will go to Tampa Bay's new Gulf Coast League team. This year's trainer, Joel Smith, will be the Rays' rehabilitation and athletic training coordinator.

Timmons to be Montgomery's hitting coach

Ozzie Timmons, who played in the major leagues for parts of five seasons, will be Montgomery's new hitting coach next year.

Timmons was at low-Class A Columbus last year, his second as a coach and first in a full-season league.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rays add pitcher Phillips from Pelicans

The Rays have bought the contract of pitcher Paul W. Phillips, who finished the season with the independent Pensacola Pelicans.

Phillips was with the Toronto organization before a June release (2-0, 5.02 ERA at high-Class A Dunedin. He had 29 strikeouts and 12 walks for the Pelicans. The 24-year-old started his pro career in 2005.

New Rays team unveils logo


The Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tampa Bay's new Florida State League team, debuted their new logo today. I kind of like it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sandberg set to guide Smokies

Heard this on XM while driving to New Orleans, so forgive me if it's late.

Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg will manage the Tennessee Smokies next year. He's managed at Class A Peoria the last two years.

The Smokies make their only scheduled 2009 Riverwalk Stadium appearance June 22-27.

Report: Second opinion benefits Baldelli

Rocco Baldelli received good news after seeking a second opinion of his illness.

Baldelli went to a clinic in Cleveland and has been diagnosed with channelopathy, a type of protein irregularity, instead of a mitochondrial disorder, according to reports in Rhode Island. Channelopathy isn't as threatening as a mitochondrial disorder.

Baldelli said his condition was 'updated,' not misdiagnosed.

Baldelli spent time with the Biscuits this summer on a rehab tour that led to his return to the major leagues.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If you have HBO, don't miss Kazmir on show

HBO's Costas Now is having a year-in-review show that will include former Biscuit Scott Kazmir. The show first airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday and several times thereafter.

(I don't have HBO. Someone let me know how it goes.)

Gathright going to Cubs

While Padres pitcher Jake Peavy remains trade bait, the Cubs added an outfielder. Former Biscuit Joey Gathright has signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with Chicago.

Cubs fans aren't quite jumping for joy. A comment at the Chicago Tribune from "Bob hates Cubbies" ...
World Series in sight now because of Gathright. Too bad there aren't cars to jump over around the bases. Joey Gathright is a proven veteran who could lead them to the promise land, and help win a world series!!!!!!

Great pickup, I think my great uncle is still availible for signing too...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gross on new Rays player, Tommy Tuberville

Rays outfielder Gabe Gross said he welcomed the extra challenge the team gave him this week.

The Rays added outfielder Matt Joyce from the Tigers. Joyce, Gross and Fernando Perez are the current contenders to play right field next season for Tampa Bay. The Rays also may sign a free agent outfielder.

"Every year in the big leagues, there are so many good players out there, they're not many jobs just handed to you," Gross said. "I have to go into spring training and do the best I can to win a position and a spot on the team."

Gross was in town today, along with Braves pitcher Tim Hudson and Astros pitcher Wesley Wright, for the grand opening of The Strike Zone, a baseball/softball academy on Eastern Boulevard. Rob Macrory owns the facility and is a former Auburn player, just like Gross and Hudson. Wright lives in Grady and graduated from Goshen High.

Gross is also a former Auburn football quarterback. Gross, who quit football halfway through Tommy Tuberville's first season in 1999 to focus on baseball, said he "was a little surprised" at Tuberville's recent departure.

"He did a lot of good at Auburn," Gross said. "He got into a situation where he obviously had a down year and couldn't get the team up to speed. In the current climate of college football, sometimes that is enough."

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Biscuits trainer a local native

Lee Slagle, who graduated from Hooper and AUM and is a former assistant basketball coach at Huntingdon, will be the Biscuits' trainer in 2009.

Slagle has been the trainer the last three years for Triple-A Oklahoma in the Texas organization. He replaced Joel Smith, Montgomery's trainer this year. The Rays haven't announced their minor-league staffs for 2009.

Slagle first worked in professional baseball in the Montreal system from 1991-95. He returned in 2003 with the Indians and spent two years with the Red Sox before going to Texas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Morlan goes to Brewers; Rays take pitcher

The Brewers grabbed former Biscuits reliever Eduardo Morlan in today's Rule 5 draft. Morlan will have to stay in the major leagues for all of 2009 or be offered back to Tampa Bay.

The Rays drafted right-hander Derek Rodriguez from the Chicago White Sox. Rodriguez held hitters to a .179 average in 36.2 innings at Triple-A Charlotte this year. The 25-year-old started the season at Double-A Birmingham and was 5-1 with a .203 average against in 42.2 innings. Rodriguez also pitched in the Arizona Fall League.

Morlan missed considerable time this season with Montgomery because of a shoulder injury. He was 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 47 innings for the Biscuits. The 22-year-old is pitching this winter for Caguas in Puerto Rico.

Perez, Gross have new competition in right

Former Biscuit Fernando Perez and former Auburn All-American Gabe Gross picked up some added competition for Tampa Bay's right-field job tonight.

The Rays traded pitcher Edwin Jackson to Detroit for outfielder Matt Joyce.

In other former Biscuit news, left-handed pitcher Chris Seddon has signed with the Seattle Mariners.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Hola a partir de Veteranos Estadio de Movie Gallery

We're at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium today where all 15 of Troy's devoted fans will watch the Trojans play Arkansas State. We'll bring you sporadic updates.

4:56 p.m.: The Troy ticket office will be open from 1-4 p.m. Sunday to take bowl ticket orders. Call 670-3681 or 877-878-9467. If Troy wins tonight, the Trojans will play Southern Miss in the Dec. 21 New Orleans Bowl. If Troy loses tonight, it's the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham on Dec. 29.

5:41: It's laughable how few people are here.

5:59: They just introduced all of Troy's seniors. We estimate there's about 5,000 fans here, at best.

6:03: Arkansas State has its own sledgehammer, so the Red Wolves should be warned that Troy fans have a past with those. ASU did run all the way to the other end of the field after entering the stadium. 'Tis believed they went hunting for fans.

6:42: End of first quarter. Troy up 7-0. Arkansas State drained and drained the clock, but missed a field goal. The Red Wolves are showing little as far as downfield passing. That should allow Troy to pressure ASU at the line.

7:01: Touchdown, Troy, 14-0. Xavier Moreland is the 11th Trojan to catch a touchdown pass this year. That's the most in the nation. I already have reservations in New Orleans and, unlike last year, I might not have to cancel them.

7:22: 21-0 with a minute left in the half. The Jerrel Jernigan-at-QB formation led to 28 yards on two plays and put Troy at the ASU 15.

8:15: End of third quarter. Still 21-nil. ASU had a turnover inside Troy's 5 and is back deep in scoring position.

8:21: Arkie State turned away at the 1.

8:22: Troy QB Levi Brown brought down for a safety. 21-2.

8:32: Interception ends another ASU possession. This one is about over and Troy can get ready for Bourbon Street.

8:36: Touchdown, Troy, 24-yard pass from Levi Brown to Austin Silvoy. It's 28-2.

8:46: DuJuan Harris with an insurance score. 35-2.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Maddux to announce retirement

The Winter Meetings are scheduled to start with a big announcement Monday in Las Vegas. Pitcher Greg Maddux, the certain Hall of Famer, will announce his retirement. He has only four Cy Young awards and 355 wins.

Rays add one, re-sign two for Bulls

The Rays have signed right-handed pitcher Jason Childers and re-signed pitcher Jeremy Cummings and outfielder/first baseman Chris Richard.

Cummings and Richard were at Triple-A Durham this year, while Childers was at Durham International League rival Charlotte. Childers was a midseason All-Star and finished 4-2 with a 1.22 ERA. He was 17-for-17 in save opportunities and held hitters to a .167 average.

The three are likely ticketed to play for the Bulls next season.

Trainer Southard joins Diamondbacks

There will be at least one change in Tampa Bay's minor-league staffs.

Trainer Jimmy Southard, who was with Montgomery in 2007 and Durham this year, has been hired by the Arizona Diamondbacks as their assistant minor-league medical coordinator.

The Rays haven't announced their staffs, though Dan DeMent has been hired, or that they'll have a Gulf Coast League team in their new Port Charlotte, Fla., complex.

In player moves, Richard De Los Santos has re-signed with the Rays and Nick DeBarr is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A year later, Delmon again available?

Delmon Young went from the Rays to the Twins a year ago and it looks like he's available for trade yet again.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, in the Fargo (N.D.) Forum, doesn't list Young in his ideal outfield for 2009. The Rocky Mountain News says the Rockies could be interested.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rays extend influence in South America

The Rays are the first major-league team to roll into Brazil and will open a training facility next year in the city of Marilia, about 230 miles northwest of Sao Paolo. The Rays already have academies in Venezuela in South America and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Howdy from Bryant-Denny-Saban Stadium


Greetings and salutations from the currently named Bryant-Denny Stadium, site of today's Alabama-Auburn showdown that will give too many fans a sense of self-worth for the next year.

Check back for updates periodically. I can share that Alabama coach Nick Saban arrived about 10 minutes ago and actually responded to the student section's cheers for him.

12:53 p.m.: The students have a decidedly different reaction to Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers. Tuberville pumped his fist to the boos. Some Auburn players held six fingers aloft and meandered toward that corner of the end zone.

12:58: One Auburn player jumped on the A at midfield. One of the previous six-fingered Tigers returned for a little more action. I don't know who it was, but he had long hair that looked like it was almost in ponytails and what appeared a wrap on his left leg.

2:04: Not really cold here in Tuscaloosa, but it is dreery. Here's where you can review last year's live blog, if you have the desire. Coaches have done the pregame handshake thing. The stadium is about half full, which is more than you can say for some stadiums.

2:09: Let us pause for a moment while Alabama plays its 120 years of highlights. We have now heard the word from the Prophet Bryant.

2:13: The highlights end with what's still a jawdropping catch. See Tyrone Prothro, right.

2:16: Here's a representation as to how today's game should go and how one end zone may appear soon, I bravely predict. Tide 37, Tigers 13.

2:21: The Advertiser is a multi-faceted online operation for today's game. Look for other goodies at the HABOTN.

2:23: More mumblings from Bryant followed by a sound bite from Saban.

2:24: The fog is really starting to roll in. Tutwiler Hall is just across the street and it's hard to make out the building. It's easy to make out some empty seats. Where's the enthusiasm?

2:33: Country music singer Sara Evans sings the national anthem. She has a small connection to the program -- she's married to Jay Barker. Evans wore a Barker jersey for her lengthy rendition.

2:44: Former Alabama running back Siran Stacy was part of the coin toss. He was involved in a car accident a year ago that killed his wife, the former Ellen Bible, and four of their children. Auburn held a moment of silence before last year's game in his honor. Shelly, the couple's only surviving child, joined her dad. Good to see.

2:55: Auburn tried to establish the run on its first drive, converted two third-down opportunities and was near midfield before punting. Tide takes over at the 7.

3:05: It's turning into a punt-fest. Tide punts, Auburn punts, Tide takes over at the 4.

3:21: Alabama went all Pac-Man on the Tigers and used 15 plays to go 76 yards for a 37-yard field goal. Leigh Tiffin's kick came on the final play of the first quarter. The Tide had a third-and-two near its own goal and Glen Coffee ran for 10 yards. Alabama also did the fourth-down thing with a John Parker Wilson sneak at the Auburn 30.

3:39: When one player seals off two defenders, that's good, right? Coffee just scored on a long run that included such a block from Travis McCall. Tide 10-0.

3:46: Auburn's offense now looks like an unsecured firehose. It just squirts all over the place. Tide has the ball back.

4:11: Alabama blocks a last-play field goal (the snap may have been a little low, too) and takes a 10-0 lead into halftime. Now, time for the boring part of any game ... the bands.

4:47: Alabama touchdown. Auburn couldn't score with $100 in Amsterdam's red-light district. A corner blitz blew up an Auburn play, the Tigers fumbled and the Tide went to the end zone on the next play. It's 16-0 and this one is about over.

5:03: How bad will it get? It's 22-0 halfway through the third quarter. The Tide could hold Auburn scoreless through the end of the Bush administration.

5:10: Make that 29-0. Ladies and gentlemen, the Auburn Tigers ...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Greetings from empty Troy stadium

We're here at Troy's Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium to see the Trojans take on Louisiana-Lafayette with the winner clinching at least a share of the Sun Belt championship.

Not that Troy fans would care. It's about 80 minutes until kickoff and traffic is, shall we say, sparse. The stands are, well, pretty dang empty. Check back for updates -- even if you're not one of the 15 devoted Troy fans out there, somewhere.

Troy may want to consider an idea to "bolster" the fans in the stands. See picture.

4:58: The Trojans have found one solution to the dearth of fans. Some U.S. soldiers will be joining us. The troops are forming up outside of the stadium for a march inside.

6:05: The last fans arrived via helicopter. It landed on Troy's practice field past the north end zone. Still, a weak, weak showing by the supposed Trojan Nation.

6:20: Troy scores on its first drive and leads 7-0. The offensive line was a star. Center Danny Franks started a 21-yard DuJuan Harris with an effective cut block. The rest of the line opened a sizable gap for Harris.

6:32: As laughable as Troy's fan support is tonight, Troy's defense has been the opposite. La.-Lafayette has three straight three-and-outs to start the game.

6:34: Nice punt by DuJuan Harris. He runs 67 and fumbles, giving La.-La. the ball at the 4.

6:45: The Cajuns tried a 43-yard field goal and Troy turned it into points. Cameron Sheffield blocked it and Jorrick Calvin returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Troy's last block was Nov. 5, 2005 against Florida Atlantic by Leodis McKelvin.

6:48: That was the first blocked field goal return for a TD for the Trojans in coach Larry Blakeney's reign.

7:04: Cajuns kick field goal. Yada, yada, yada.

7:19: Trojans benefit from an overturned call, kick field goal. The fans are giving such a lackluster effort that we weren't sure if the kick was good until the referee signaled it. The "fans" behind the end zone simply caught the ball.

7:28: Jorrick Calvin is your first-half MVP. Calvin made an interception at the 5 to end a Cajun threat. It's halftime and 17-3.

8: The Cajuns have Troy right where they want 'em. Troy just scored to make it 24-3 ... about the same situation Troy faced last week at LSU. I think we know how that turned out.

8:16: The Trojans have muscled up in this game. The offensive line is blowing the Cajuns off the ball and it's now 31-3. Troy has 278 yards rushing and DuJuan Harris has a career-high 161. Now, it's the exact same situation Troy faced in the third quarter last week at LSU.

8:19: Announced attendancs is 19,443, which includes at least 5,000 dressed as empty seats.

8:43: It's now 34-3. I don't think even Troy could blow this. The scoring drive lasted a season-high 17 plays and a season-high 8:10.

8:50: 41-3 and DuJuan Harris is sitting at 234 yards rushing after a 30-yard TD.

8:53: That 234 is 10 yards shy of the school record set by Eddie Brundidge in 1984.

Friday, November 21, 2008

DeMent returning to Rays as coach

Dan DeMent, who played in Tampa Bay's minor-league system for five years, is returning to the organization as a minor-league coach.

"I already know everybody in the organization pretty much and I think it will be great," DeMent said. "I'm looking forward to it."

DeMent, who lives near Birmingham, played in the Washington Nationals' system after leaving the Rays. The 30-year-old was out of the game this year -- and spent his time coaching. He was a junior varsity coach at Clay-Chalkville High, where his wife Krista teaches, and helped with a travel team this summer.

McNally Ann, Dan and Krista's first child, was the first Baby Biscuit in 2004. The couple has a second daughter, Fallon, who turned 1 in August.

"Krista is real supportive and that's the only way I could take a job like this," DeMent said. "It's going to be tough because of these girls. They're attached to me and I'm more attached to them."

Dan hit 33 home runs in five years with the Rays -- including eight with Montgomery in 2004 -- before finding some power with Washington. He had 14 homers in 2005, a hefty 20 in '06 and 10 in '07.

"I found a power surge late, some old man strength," DeMent cracked.

DeMent said he will be assigned to one of Tampa Bay's short-season affiliates, but he said he doesn't yet know which one.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hughes shows off in Arizona

Rhyne Hughes was the big winner among the Rays in the Arizona Fall League, which reached the end of its regular season today. The Peoria Javelinas beat the Phoenix Desert Dogs 13-6 in today's finale and finished three games behind the Desert Dogs for a playoff spot.

Hughes ranked seventh among the league's top hitters with a .394 average and set the pace with 20 extra-base hits. He hit a two-run double in today's finale.

Hughes won the Florida State League batting title in 2007, but hit a disappointing .268 with Montgomery this year.

Rays in the AFL ...
OF J.T. Hall -- .237 average, 12 RBIs in 23 games
1B Rhyne Hughes -- .394 average, 27 RBIs, 18 RBIs, 1.129 OPS
OF Desmond Jennings -- .231 in 12 games
C Matt Spring -- .175 in 18 games

RHP Chris Mason -- 0-1, 10.38 ERA in 13 relief appearances, 4 K's, 21 hits allowed
RHP Ryan Reid -- 0-2, 6.43 ERA in 10 relief appearances, 18 K's in 14 innings
RHP Wade Townsend -- 2-0, 8.44 ERA in three starts, busted shoulder, will miss 2009
RHP Mike Wlodarczyk -- 2-2, 7.62 ERA in 12 relief appearances

Atlanta right-hander Tommy Hanson is a safe bet to win any pitching award coming from the AFL. Hanson won the league's Triple Crown with a 5-0 record, 0.63 ERA and 49 strikeouts. He allowed 10 hits in 28.2 innings and walked seven.

Thayer shielded from Rule 5 draft

Former Biscuits pitcher Dale Thayer was among three players added to Tampa Bay's 40-man roster today and protected from next month's Rule 5 draft.

The Rays also added pitchers Wade Davis and Jake McGee, who started this year with Montgomery.

The 27-year-old Thayer was 3-1 with nine saves and a 2.77 ERA at Triple-A Durham this season. He's a four-time All-Star in six pro seasons, including 2007 with the Biscuits. Thayer, the all-time Southern League leader in saves, came to the Rays in a 2006 trade with the San Diego Padres.

The additions leave the Rays with 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Rays release spring schedule

The Rays have 15 games against major-league teams, plus a World Baseball Classic exhibition with Puerto Rico, scheduled next year for their new spring training complex in Port Charlotte, Fla.

They start the spring schedule at home Feb. 25 against Cincinnati and leave Florida after an April 1 home game with Minnesota. Tampa Bay ends the exhibition schedule with a two-game World Series rematch. The Rays play at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park on April 3-4 before starting the regular season at Boston on April 6.

Spring schedule (1:05 p.m. Eastern unless noted) ...
FEBRUARY
25 Cincinnati
26 at N.Y. Yankees, 1:15
27 Boston
28 at Philadelphia
MARCH
1 Toronto
2 at St. Louis, TBA
3 Houston
4 Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic team, 7:05
5 off
6 at Pittsburgh
7 Boston
8 at Boston
9 Minnesota
10 Toronto
11 off
12 Philadelphia
13 at Toronto
14 at Cincinnati
15 Pittsburgh
16 at Pittsburgh, 7:05
17 off
18 Cincinnati
19 St. Louis
20 at Toronto
21 at Baltimore
22 N.Y. Yankees
23 at Pittsburgh
24 off
25 Pittsburgh, 7:05
26 at Detroit, 6:05
27 at Minnesota
28 Cincinnati
29 at Cincinnati
30 at Minnesota
31 at Boston
APRIL
1 Minnesota
2 off
3 at Philadelphia, 7:05 (in Philadelphia)
4 at Philadelphia (in Philadelphia)

Everything is subject to change.

SINGLE-GAME TICKETS: field box $23, baseline box $18, field reserve $18, baseline reserve $16, berm $9.

Davis, McGee to join players union today

Today is the deadline for the Rays to add prospects to their 40-man roster and protect them from next month's Rule 5 draft.

So, pitchers Wade Davis and Jake McGee, come on down and receive your membership in the Major League Baseball Players Association. Drafted out of high school in 2004, these two are eligible and too potentially valuable for the Rays to lose.

The Rule 5 draft is Dec. 11 at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. If someone is drafted, they have to stay in the major leagues all next season OR be on the disabled list. McGee is recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely won't pitch for all of 2009.

Tampa Bay has 36 players on its 40-man roster right now and it out trolling for free agents. They'll also need 40-man space for those additions.

This is an oversimplification, but basically high school players drafted in 2004 or college players drafted in 2005 are exposed in this year's Rule 5. Looking at Tampa Bay's draft lists from those years, I don't see any other possibilities (sorry, Chris Mason).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crisp to Royals bad sign for Gathright

Center fielder Coco Crisp was traded from Boston to Kansas City for reliever Ramon Ramirez today.

That likely signals that the Royals don't consider former Biscuit Joey Gathright part of their long-term plans. Gathright hit .254 with just 20 walks and 41 runs scored in 105 games this year with Kansas City. He was 21-of-25 on steals.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What? David Price is No. 1?

Another week's football immersion kept me from checking back with Baseball America for the magazine's top Rays prospects until today.

Hopefully, BA won't mind me sharing the Top 10. I'll give them a plug: The annual Prospect Handbook is invaluable.

1. LHP David Price -- who?
2. SS Tim Beckham
3. RHP Wade Davis
4. SS Reid Brignac
5. OF Desmond Jennings
6. LHP Matt Moore
7. RHP Nick Barnese
8. RHP Jeremy Hellickson
9. LHP Jake McGee
10. RHP Jeff Niemann

I did edit my list of prospects ... not named David Price to insert Moore and extract Maiko Loyola, who has been released.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Biscuits set lows for 2008 revenue

With a $220,000 final quarterly payment to the city, the Biscuits totaled a franchise-low $622,957 in rent for the 2008 fiscal year.

The team had its lowest attendance at 290,000 and lowest operating revenue with $4.89 million. All of those exceed projections when the city council approved Riverwalk Stadium's construction in 2002.

For those counting every penny, the team has paid $3,525,525.52 in rent and has collected $28,559,391.58 in revenue in those areas where the city receives a share for rent.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greetings from LaGrange


We're here in LaGrange, Ga., to see Huntingdon battle the host Panthers for the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and perhaps an NCAA Division III playoff berth.

Great sightlines here at Callaway Stadium, though it's going to be a blustery day. Don't worry, I have my trusty Baseball Hall of Fame sweatshirt on hand.


Check back for periodic updates.

11:55 a.m. Central: LaGrange recognized one of its player's parents ... for good reason. Army Major John Hanson just returned from Afghanistan. Freshman defensive back Gunnar Hanson is his son.

12:12 p.m.: Huntingdon thought it had done well when it downed a punt at the LaGrange 1. LaGrange yawned, drove 99 yards on nine plays and made it 7-0. It's the fourth time this season the Hawks have surrendered a touchdown on the opening drive.

12:13: That's also the first touchdown LaGrange has ever scored against Huntingdon in a varsity game.

12:30: End of one quarter. Huntingdon should feel lucky to only trail 7-0. The Hawks haven't done much. LaGrange has a 133-69 advantage in total yards.

12:43: The Hawks find some special-teams magic on a day they've struggled elsewhere. Cornelius Jenkins blocks a punt and Darius Chapman returned it 9 yards for a touchdown. It's Huntingdon's first blocked punt since October 2005. It's tied 7-7.

1: Cody Stepko kicks a 30-yard field goal. Huntingdon looks different since the blocked punt. It helped that LaGrange RB Mario Wallace (12 carries, 116 yards) was out the last series with an apparent right arm injury.

1:03: It's halftime. I'm heading to the car for extra insulation.

1:15: Insulation secured. Also found out that it was Xavier Singleton -- and not Darius Chapman who returned the blocked punt for a touchdown. Singleton and Chapman swapped jerseys today and Singleton is wearing Chapman's No. 30.

1:26: Wallace returned for the second half and was hurt again on the first play. He's in obvious pain as he comes off the field.

1:30: The Panthers finish the drive with a touchdown. A 47-yard kickoff return and Wallace's 7-yard run started it. A 5-yard pass from Drew Carter to Nick Langley ended it.

1:51: Major error by the Hawks leads to a LaGrange touchdown. Justin Ridgeway shouldn't have pitched the ball to Jamal Gardner, who shouldn't have tried to make something of it, either. Gardner held the ball in front when he tried an off-balance move. Stripped. Fumble. LaGrange recovery. Two plays later, a touchdown makes it 21-10.

2:01: Huntingdon dodges bullet. LaGrange appeared to have a touchdown but fumbled. Hawks, down 21-10, recover for a touchback.

2:03: End of third quarter. Ridgeway is having a wretched day. He's 5-of-20 passing for 30 yards and an interception.

2:14: Touchdown, LaGrange. A missed extra point makes it 27-10 and should about do it. The Hawks can ponder Carter's running ability through the offseason. He scrambled for 10 yards on a third-and-four in this drive. Carter scrambled for 21 on a third-and-10 earlier in the half.

2:20: Huntingdon suddenly finds an offense and rolls down the field like the breeze. Ridgeway was 3-for-3 for 49 yards in the drive. It's 27-17 with 7:40 left. The Hawks will still need quite a few breaks.

2:31: There's a break on the field with 3:56 left and Huntingdon trails by 10. Sounds like a perfect time for the Huntingdon band to play "The Final Countdown," doesn't it?

2:33: There's another break. At least the Huntingdon band didn't play "na, na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SL president snares MiLB award

Southern League president Don Mincher has been named this years winner of Minor League Baseball's Warren Giles Award.

Mincher has been the SL president since February 2000. The Giles Award annually honors "outstanding service as a league president," according to an MiLB release.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Stunner: Maddon top AL manager

Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon, who turned the Rays from a perennial bottom feeder into a World Series participant this year, won the American League Manager of the Year award today.

Maddon was the top choice on 27 of 28 ballots and second on the exception. Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire pulled the other first-place vote and was the overall runner-up.

The Biscuits have a closer tie to the National League winner. Cubs skipper Lou Piniella has a minority stake in the team's ownership. Piniella has twice been the AL's top manager and also played for the Selma Cloverleafs in 1962.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Price not on this list of top Rays prospects

I wager a hefty sum that you are looking at the only Rays top prospects list that does not have left-handed pitcher David Price at No. 1.

Baseball America is scheduled to release its Top 25 Rays prospects this week. (Heck, it might be today. (Heck, it might already be out.)) Well, here’s my list of the Top 30 Rays prospects ... not named David Price.

Just like last year, I warn that this is likely skewed toward the players already at the higher levels because I've seen those guys play more.

EDITED to add Matt Moore and delete Maiko Loyola, who I had 23rd.

TOP 30* (last year's ranking)
1. RHP Wade Davis (3) -- has nasty disposition toward hitters
2. SS Reid Brignac (9) -- made major strides defensively in ‘08
3. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6) -- Rays ending kid-glove treatment
4. CF Fernando Perez (5) -- should be considered for Rays’ needs in right
5. SS Tim Beckham (NR) -- struggled on field in debut season, boomed late

6. RHP Jeff Niemann (8) -- out of minor-league options
7. LHP Jake McGee (2) -- will take 40-man slot despite Tommy John surgery
8. C John Jaso (10) -- still needs work on defense, particularly pitch selection
9. RHP Mitch Talbot (16) -- won 13 with 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio
10. RHP Eduardo Morlan (12) -- injuries limited him to just 47 innings

11. CF Desmond Jennings (7) -- back, shoulder woes made for disappointing 2008
12. RHP Nick Barnese (20) -- New York-Penn hitters squirmed to a .212 average
13. LF Reid Fronk (19) -- will power numbers convert to Florida State League?
14. LHP Matt Moore -- reason I originally left him out: braincramp
15. RHP Heath Rollins (14) -- 3.30 ERA but 5-11 record for wretched Vero Beach

16. RHP Ryan Reid (NR) -- 31 walks in 46.1 Biscuits innings; 20 prior in career
17. LHP James Houser (18) -- tantalizingly effective ... when healthy
18. RHP Alex Cobb (NR) -- 16 gopher balls, 16 hit batsmen, yet still 3.29 ERA
19. RHP Chris Mason (11) -- Triple-A piƱata (6.21 ERA, .333 average against)
20. 1B Rhyne Hughes (29) -- OK in regular season; stellar in Arizona Fall League

21. 2B Elias Otero (NR) -- .332 batting average, nice .932 OPS
22. RHP Dale Thayer (26) -- more good numbers, another year in age
23. RHP Tyree Hayes (25) -- despite woeful season debut, had 3.39 ERA at HV
24. RF Ryan Royster (13) -- system Triple Crown numbers didn’t convert to FSL
25. RHP Jesse Darcy (NR) -- strong finish; 3.05 ERA, 15 walks in 133 innings

26. 1B Chris Nowak (NR) -- set career high with 15 home runs
27. 2B Elliot Johnson (30) -- spring sensation hit .261 at Durham
28. CF Emeel Salem (27) -- was close to Double-A jump until breaking elbow
29. RHP Jeremy Hall (NR) -- not overpowering numbers, except 10-3 record
30. C Nevin Ashley (15) -- lost 15 steals, seven triples off ’07

*--NOTE: These are the top 30 players ... not named David Price.

DROPPED OUT -- why he dropped
3B Evan Longoria (1) -- graduated, won AL Rookie of the Year
LHP David Price (4) -- well, he’s named David Price
?? Joel Guzman (17) -- now a minor-league free agent
LHP Brian Henderson (21) -- hit hard in short stay at Durham
RHP Matt Walker (22) -- drug suspension, poor stats sour status
RHP Josh Butler (23) -- traded to Brewers for Gabe Gross
OF Justin Ruggiano (24) -- not viable option to be Rays’ RF
LHP Mike Wlodarczyk (28) -- trying to convert into reliever

Monday, November 10, 2008

Longoria wins AL rookie award

It's no surprise that Evan Longoria won the American League Rookie of the Year award today.

Longoria was a unanimous pick of the 28 voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America. He's the first unanimous pick since Boston's Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

Longoria, after starting the year at Triple-A Durham, hit 27 home runs and had 85 RBIs for Tampa Bay. Longoria was the Southern League's most valuable player in 2007 for the Biscuits.

White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez was second to Longoria in the AL voting, while Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was third.

Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was the NL winner. Soto was in the Southern League with the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in 2004, the Biscuits' inaugural season. Soto hit .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBIs this year.

Longoria is the first former Biscuit to land a major major-league award. Outfielder Delmon Young was a runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year last year to Boston's Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is a potential MVP this year.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Greetings from Red Stick


Greetings and salutations from the best football stadium in the Southeastern Conference, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. I'm here to cover the Alabama-LSU game, so you may see a few periodic updates from time to time.

This is my first trip here since my old friend, Mike V, retired. Mike V was a native Alabamian (believe it or not) and I did a story on his old home many years ago. The people at the park where Mike V was raised originally named him Booger.

Unfortunately, today's game is a day game. A night game here is a moving experience.

There are rumors that the LSU faithful won't extend a gracious welcome to Alabama coach Nick Saban, who abandoned them for the NFL, struggled there and turned up at one of LSU's chief rivals.

I had hoped to track down some of the infamous Brignac family jambalaya before kickoff, but traffic was worse than usual. If I learn that former Biscuits shortstop Reid Brignac, his family and a large pot of that tasty dish are nearby, I'm going to be upset.

1:54 p.m.: Saban has successfully entered the field. One Baton Rouge apartment complex had a Burn Bama bonfire and included the phrase "Welcome back, Nick" on its advertisement.

2:04: Mike VI did make it today and there was concern he wouldn't. Mike skipped LSU's last two home games.

2:08: Man, I really wish this game was at night. Many LSU fans may think it is. I'd guess the stadium is a little more than half full, though these dang Cajuns can really make some noise.

2:11: LSU just read the SEC sportsmanship policy and reminded everyone to be nice to each other, not throw things, etc. I'm sure that will be followed to the letter.

2:22: The LSU band marches out for the pregame show. This and T.J. Ribs are the only things I looked forward to on the trip.

2:23: Chillbumps.

2:43: The fumble-at-the-goal line play was excellent in so many ways. Great effort by the Alabama QB to throw the pass, great effort by the receiver to get to the goal line, great effort by the LSU guy to knock the ball out.

2:55: Since John Parker Wilson taunted LSU fans with a hand/phone gesture, I wonder if LSU fans got his number and called him this week. It's not like that hasn't happened before.

4:21: Yawn. This is my first look at Alabama. I thought they were supposed to be the No. 1 team in the country. If so, it's a weak year for college football.

5:24: They've announced that it's officially Saturday night now. That's supposed to bode well for the Tigers. The energy in this place jumped a little.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pena is first Rays Gold Glover

Rays first baseman Carlos Pena won an American League Gold Glove today, the first in Tampa Bay franchise history. Pena led AL first baseman with a .998 fielding percentage (two errors, 1,099 total chances).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hot Stove kicks in; Rays decline Floyd, Miller options

The Rays have declined their options on designated hitter Cliff Floyd and left-handed reliever Trever Miller.

Floyd may have a torn labrum that, if surgery is required, he says will cause him to retire. Miller was 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in 68 appearances this season.

Catcher Michel Hernandez has cleard waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Durham. Hernandez joined the Bulls for the International League playoffs and, after the Rays ran short on catchers, found himself on the postseason roster.

Late last week, outfielder Rocco Baldelli filed for free agency. The Rays declined a 2009 option on his contract in spring training. Baldelli still might return to Tampa Bay.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Philly pool: How many arrests?

Besides sharing your headlines, let's hear how many people you think will be arrested tonight in and around Philadelphia while celebrating the World Series title?

I'll say 32.

Phillies win World Series

Here's a video from Philadelphia's NLCS celebration that should mimic tonight.

Have any headline ideas?
Here are some of my early leaders ...
Sunset: Rays go down in World Series
Rays grow dim: Phillies win World Series

Share your own.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sporting News: Maddon top AL manager

The Sporting News picked Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon as the American League manager of the year today. This won't be the last manager of the year award that Maddon wins.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Phillies win Game 1

The Phillies may feel a little freedom after winning tonight's Game 1 of the World Series. The Rays have a formidable home-field advantage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Longoria wins Sporting News award

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has been named the Sporting News' American League Rookie of the Year. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto won the magazine's NL rookie award.

Before we get confused, the main Rookie of the Year awards are picked by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hoo-Rays gets my vote

Perusing the headlines and newspaper layouts from Sunday's Rays-Red Sox game and I have to give the Bradenton Herald the headline award with HOO-RAYS!

The St. Petersburg Times has the best celebration photo, though.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rays to start selling title goodies Monday

This won't help anybody here in Montgomery ... unless an enterprising Biscuits retail manager is able to procure a few things while he's in Tampa Bay.

But the Rays will start selling American League championship merchandise Monday at the team's stores at Tropicana Field and in Tampa.

World Series tickets will also go on sale Monday -- with conditions. Those who won the chance to purchase tickets through raysbaseball.com can buy tickets for Games 1 and 2 on Monday. Any remaining tickets (if there are any remaining) will go on sale at raysbaseball.com at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Fans can still register for the chance to purchase tickets for potential sixth and seventh games.

Ticket packages are also available for those who place deposits on 2009 season tickets. Call 727-342-5757 or hit raysbaseball.com

Rays roll into World Series

Matt Garza turned in an admirable effort to help the Rays shake off miserable performances the last two games and the Rays are headed to the World Series.

Garza allowed two hits over seven-plus innings in Tampa Bay's 3-1 pennant-clinching win over the Red Sox tonight.

The Rays, who had the worst record in baseball last year, won the American League championship and will face the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Tampa Bay had a 3-1 series lead over Boston before losing twice to force tonight's Game 7.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Someone can pull out a fork

The Rays followed Thursday's demoralizing loss with another tonight, losing 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox. Tampa Bay, after leading the ALCS 3-1, now have a Game 7 on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

It's not looking good for the Rays after a listless performance tonight. How many times will we hear about Boston being a "team of destiny" over the next week?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

That sting could linger

The Rays lead 7-0 when the Fenway Park crowd jumps up for William Howard Taft's seventh-inning stretch, only to watch Boston rally for an elimination-avoiding 8-7 victory.

Tampa Bay still leads the series 3-2 with Game 6 at Tropicana Field on Saturday, but this one could hurt for a little while.

The Rays, having never been in such a postseason spotlight, or much of a spotlight at all, have a day to think about what happened. With Tampa Bay up 7-0, the plastic was likely being draped in the clubhouse and the champagne, all nice and iced, hauled out.

The Red Sox get a day to compare to their rallies against the Yankees in 2004 (from a 3-0 deficit) and the Indians last year (down 3-1).

Rays not everyone's favorite

Chicago Tribune: Rays' rise a fastball into guts of Cubs

A few lines ...
The absolute worst team—the lamest of the lame. A franchise as fouled up as any in sport. Tampa Bay is the Bozo the Clown of baseball. But it is on the verge of winning the Grand Prize Game.
I never have met a Tampa Bay baseball fan in 49 of our 50 states. I never have seen anybody in a "TB" cap, which could have something to do with not wishing to advertise a deadly infectious disease.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

School frowns on hairy enthusiasm for Rays

It's good to see that the Tampa Bay Rays' effort to disrupt the educational process has been stemmed at Lincoln Middle School near Bradenton, Fla.

'Ray-hawk' gets Manatee student in trouble

Think of the children.

Zachary Sharples, 12, perhaps sensing the seriousness that Lincoln places on this matter, has transferred to a different school district that happens to place less emphasis on such distractions.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Biscuits help Javelinas win AFL opener

Matt Spring singled, while Ryan Reid and Mike Wlodarczyk threw an inning each as the Peoria Javelinas beat Surprise 10-3 in their Arizona Fall League opener today.

Phil Hughes of the Yankees gave up one hit over five innings, though he walked five, for the win. Wlodarczyk worked a perfect seventh. In the eighth, Matt Wieters of the Orioles tripled off Reid and scored on a groundout.

There was one change in the Tampa Bay contingent from what the Rays announced in August. Wade Townsend replaced James Houser, who missed his last start of the season with Montgomery due to a forearm strain.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Rays going to ALCS

B.J. Upton homered twice to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox today to reach the American League Championship Series.

Upton homered in the first inning and in the third, giving Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead. The Rays stretched it to 4-0 in the fourth when Cliff Floyd hit an RBI double and scored on a Dioner Navarro single.

Andy Sonnanstine allowed three hits and two runs over 5 2/3 innings to pick up the victory. Sonnanstine walked one and struck out four. He and Upton are former Biscuits.

The Rays will play either the Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Angels in the ALCS, which starts Friday. Tampa Bay will either host Boston or travel to L.A.

Upton is the 65th player to hit more than one home run in a league championship series or division series. He's the fourth this year, joining fellow former Biscuit Evan Longoria , the Angels' Mike Napoli and the Phillips' Pat Burrell.

And we're back with blogger

Welcome back, welcome back. We've made a triumphant return to the hallowed halls of blogger.com and shrugged aside a six-month stay at that other (slow) site. We've returned to our roots here at blogger.com.

Welcome, welcome. Sit and stay a while. Say hi to our inspiration, Grover Cleveland (right). You can review the posts from when we started this endeavor known as blogging up until we headed off to the great unknown. If you still want to read the posts from the wilderness, they're still there, too.

For anything new relating to the Biscuits, or to whatever else crosses my mind, you'll need to come here. We're making a clean break from that other place.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New link to new blog

I've moved -- http://montgomeryadvertiser.com/biscuitblog

And I bid a tearful adieu to blogger.

I like blogger, but the montgomeryadvertiser.com folk want the hits to go to montgomeryadvertiser.com. They particularly came to this conclusion after us sports people started teasing to the blogs directly here at blogger. At least with the link above, you won't have to go on safari to find my crumby blog.

Also, highly recommended ...
The Hottest Auburn Blog on the Net, by Jay G. Tate -- http://montgomeryadvertiser.com/aublog

No www's required.

Ah, the memories: Being able to put obscure, overly dramatic historical references to describe a mere football game (see November 2007) (and thanks again, Nick Saban), having too many Devil Rays tell me the blog has become required reading, reading the quiz guesses from the Charlie Montoyo figurine (see May 2007), using the same photo of the mayor (left) whenever possible, and, of course, the Super Bowl commercials from February, particularly Summer Glau (right). And the Terminator show is pretty good, if you missed it.

I almost forgot the repeated Chris Mason references.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Top Braves prospect suspended

Outfielder Jordan Schafer, the No. 1 prospect in the Atlanta Braves' system who is with Double-A Mississippi, has been suspended. He'll miss the next 50 games for using human growth hormone.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday finale against Lookouts

The Lookouts have lost catcher Chris Kroski, who was 0-for-3 with an RBI in Sunday's first game, to Triple-A Louisville. Former UCLA Bruin Chris Denove joins the team.

By the way, here's a story from last week about Wade Townsend, who is quickly becoming known as a good quote. Townsend hopes to throw with a full deck

LOOKOUTS
Bolivar, 3b
Anderson, 2b
Gutierrez, 1b
Tatum, c
Strait, lf
Dorn, dh
Szymanski, rf
Cumberland, cf
Castro, ss
LeCure, rhp

BISCUITS
Eldridge, cf
Raburn, ss
Jaso, c
Nowak, 3b
Hughes, 1b
Pedroza, rf
Martinez, dh
Andrus, lf
Asanovich, 2b
Wlodarczyk, lhp

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday's Game 2: Biscuits 10, Lookouts 1

Richard De Los Santos threw five shutout innings and the Biscuits cracked three home runs in a 10-1 win over the Lookouts in Sunday's second game.

John Jaso, Rhyne Hughes and Josh Asanovich each homered. Every Biscuits starter had at least one hit.

Game 2 lineups

Your second-game starters ...

LOOKOUTS
Bolivar, 2b
Cumberland, cf
Griffin, dh
Dorn, lf
Tatum, c
Strait, rf
Gutierrez, 1b
Eymann, 3b
Castro, ss
Mallett, rhp

BISCUITS
Eldridge, cf
Raburn, ss
Jaso, c
Nowak, 3b
Hughes, 1b
Pedroza, dh
Martinez, lf
Andrus, rf
Asanovich, 2b
De Los Santos, rhp

Does this link work?

Let me know. They probably won't let me double-post for too much longer.

The new blog?

Syzmanski updates grand slam list

Here's the list of grand slams surrendered by the Biscuits.

2004
none
2005
May 21: Mobile's Nick Trzesniak, off Jose Diaz, eighth inning
July 3: Birmingham's Josh Fields, off Brian Lockwood, third inning
July 17: Jacksonville's Sergio Garcia, off Brian Henderson, seventh inning, at Riverwalk
2006
April 15: Jacksonville's Craig Brazell (Montgomery native), off Chris Flinn, first inning
Aug. 6: Mississippi's Josh Burrus, off Josh Kranawetter, eighth inning, at Riverwalk
2007
April 9: West Tenn's Brent Johnson, off Mike Prochaska, first inning, at Riverwalk
May 2: Mississippi's Josh Burrus, off Chris Seddon, fourth inning, at Riverwalk
June 8: Mobile's Javier Brito, off Chris Mason, first inning
Sept. 1: Jacksonville's Blake DeWitt, off Jake McGee, first inning
2008
Sunday: Chattanooga's B.J. Szymanski, off Jeremy Flanagan, eighth inning, at Riverwalk

Sunday's opener: Lookouts 8, Biscuits 4 (8 innings)

B.J. Szymanski hit an eighth-inning grand slam -- on an 0-2 pitch from Jeremy Flanagan -- to give the Chattanooga Lookouts an 8-4 victory over the Montgomery Biscuits.

The Biscuits rallied in the seventh, the finaly scheduled inning, without benefit of a hit to force an extra frame. Ronnie Merrill's flyout brought in Erold Andrus.

Montgomery starter James Houser allowed just two hits and one earned run in five innings.

Marathon Sunday

It's a doubleheader today due to Friday's rainout and here are the Game 1 lineups.

LOOKOUTS
Bolivar, dh
Anderson, 2b
Griffin, 3b
Gutierrez, 1b
Strait, cf
Dorn, lf
Szymanski, rf
Kroski, c
Castro, ss

BISCUITS
Eldridge, cf
Merrill, ss
Hughes, 1b
Nowak, 3b
Martinez, dh
Pedroza, rf
Cottrell, 2b
Andrus, lf
Spring, c

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A soggy Saturday

With more rain and tons of clouds, neither team took batting practice, but there should be baseball today.

Lineups ...
LOOKOUTS
Bolivar, 2b
Anderson, dh
Griffin, 3b
Dorn, lf
Tatum, c
Cumberland, cf
Szymanski, rf
Gutierrez, 1b
Eymann, ss

Avery, rhp

BISCUITS
Eldridge, cf
Merrill, ss
Jaso, c
Nowak, 3b
Hughes, 1b
Pedroza, rf
Martinez, dh
Cottrell, 2b
Andrus, lf

Davis, rhp

Friday, April 04, 2008

Special section links

In case you missed them, here are the links to the stories in Thursday's special section about the Biscuits.

McGee, Davis have a lot in common, including talent
A Q&A with pitching coach Neil Allen
Hughes looks ahead after being hit in mouth by pitch
Pedroza hit the shot heard around the city

We originally were going to have a trivia contest, so I made these more difficult than they needed to be. Then, we decided not to have a contest. (Feel free to post your results.)
Trivia questions
Answers

We were also able to PDF some of the graphics pages, but not the Southern League preview page or the Tampa Bay organizational ladder page. The file includes each player's baseball card.

Friday vs. Lookouts, weather -- Rain wins

Rainout. Doubleheader will start at 2:05 p.m. Sunday.

Clouds are looming on the horizon and the radar doesn't look too good, but here are your lineups for Game 2 of the Lookouts-Biscuits series.

LOOKOUTS
Luis Bolivar, 2b
Drew Anderson, dh
Michael Griffin, 3b
Daniel Dorn, lf
Craig Tatum, c
Shaun Cumberland, cf
B.J. Szymanski, rf
Tonys Gutierrez, 1b
Eric Eymann, ss
James Avery, rhp

BISCUITS
Rashad Eldridge, cf
Johnny Raburn, ss
John Jaso, c
Chris Nowak, 3b
Rhyne Hughes, 1b
Sergio Pedroza, rf
Gabriel Martinez, dh
Patrick Cottrell, 2b
Erold Andrus, lf
Wade Davis, rhp

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Kline, Newmann out for season

Pitchers Will Kline and David Newmann, both high draft picks by the Rays last year, will miss the season with injuries, farm director Mitch Lukevics said. Kline is out with a shoulder injury and Newmann tore a knee ligament late in spring training.

Kline was a second-round draft pick and Newmann a fourth-rounder.

Thursday vs. Lookouts -- L, 4-1

Chattanooga starter Daryl Thompson gave up three hits and no earned runs over six innings to lead the Lookouts to a 4-1 win over the Biscuits in Thursday's season opener.

EIGHTH INNING
Lookouts add two more on a Michael Griffin double. Gonzalez charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

SEVENTH INNING
McGee is out after six. Final line: 3 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts. Jino Gonzalez shaky in his Montgomery debut, issues a two-out walk before giving up an RBI triple. In the bottom half, Biscuits start with two straight singles before Gabriel Martinez waives badly at some off-speed stuff and Ronnie Merrill grounds into a double play. Lookouts 2, Biscuits 1.

FOURTH INNING
A bloop single, steal and solid single allow the Lookouts to tie it. Cody Strait took second on the RBI single. McGee made a double-clutch, one-bounce throw to try to get him. Tied 1-1.

THIRD INNING
McGee snaps off two good curveballs and strikes out B.J. Szymanski to start it. With two outs, he hangs a curve that Jose Castro hits off the left-field wall for Chattanooga's first baserunner.

SECOND INNING
McGee another three up, three down.

FIRST INNING
Jake McGee looks good early. He hit 93 a lot in the first inning and sat down the Lookouts in order. Kc, Kc, F-9. Johnny Raburn gets Montgomery's first hit of the season and, more importantly, his intro music is the same from 2006: Alabama's Mountain Music. The Biscuits score their first run on an error. Biscuits 1, Lookouts 0.

Thursday's Lookouts lidlifter

The Biscuits are taking batting practice and the Lookouts are starting to hit the field for tonight's season opener at Riverwalk Stadium. (I've yet to find a direct link to the new blog at the paper's site.)

LOOKOUTS
Luis Bolivar, 2b
Drew Anderson, dh
Michael Griffin, 3b
Craig Tatum, c
Cody Strait, lf
Daniel Dorn, 1b
B.J. Syzmanski, rf
Shaun Cumberland, cf
Jose Castro, ss
Daryl Thompson, rhp

BISCUITS
Rashad Eldridge, cf
Johnny Raburn, dh
John Jaso, c
Chris Nowak, 3b
Rhyne Hughes, 1b
Sergio Pedroza, rf
Gabriel Martinez, lf
Ronnie Merrill, ss
Josh Asanovich, 2b
Jake McGee, lhp

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Special section finished; go buy a copy

The annual Biscuits preseason special section is finally finished. Look for the 24-page tabloid in Thursday's edition of the Advertiser and see what all I screwed up. Those of you outside the circulation area are excused from purchasing, but you should be able to see all the stories at montgomeryadvertiser.com.

Oh, and they're forcing us to change our blogs and we're going away from blogspot. Our newly designed site currently includes the Clarion-Ledger's Mississippi State writer's blog, which is a good read, but none of the Montgomery sports blogs.

I'll post a link here when I get one. Until then, I'll likely post to both places. (We'll see if the bells and whistles you've become accustomed to here will be available over there.)

Here's the Biscuits' lineup for Thursday. (*--Subject to change.)
Rashad Eldridge, cf
Johnny Raburn, dh
John Jaso, c
Chris Nowak, 3b
Rhyne Hughes, 1b
Sergio Pedroza, rf
Gabriel Martinez, lf
Ronnie Merrill, ss
Josh Asanovich, 2b
Jake McGee, lhp

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Chattanooga pitching matchups

The Chattanooga Lookouts have set their pitching rotation for this weekend's season-opening series against the Biscuits. The Lookouts also feature outfielder Shaun Cumberland, who was with Montgomery until a trade last summer.

Thursday: RHP Daryl Thompson vs. LHP Jake McGee
Friday: RHP Justin Mallett vs. RHP Wade Davis
Saturday: RHP James Avery vs. LHP James Houser
Sunday: LHP Ben Jukich vs. RHP Richard De Los Santos
Monday: RHP Sam LeCure vs. LHP Mike Wlodarczyk

Monday, March 31, 2008

So much for no timetable on Jennings

A day after farm director Mitch Lukevics said there was no timetable on Desmond Jennings' return from a back injury, he said the outfielder is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

Finally home

Stopped in Gainesville for a little break at a Borders, hit two drive-throughs and made two other quick stops to complete the trip in 9 1/2 hours. It usually takes me 10 hours because I'll sit down and eat once.

A quick check of the announced rosters has the final work list with a high percentage. It was 24-for-24 on Montgomery's roster and 26-for-26 on Durham's. Vero Beach and Columbus have yet to announce theirs.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

All but official?

Well, with a 500-mile drive ahead, I don't feel safe waiting for an official announcement. It's 3 p.m. Central and the players have been gone about three hours.

DURHAM
PITCHERS

Nick DeBarr, Brian Henderson, Ben Hendrickson, Kevin Lynn, Chris Mason, Calvin Medlock, Scott Munter, Jeff Niemann, Mike Prochaska, Jae Kuk Ryu, Mitch Talbot, Dale Thayer
CATCHERS
Mike DeFelice, Hector Gimenez, Alex Jamieson
INFIELDERS
Jeff Bannon, Reid Brignac, Andy Cannizaro, Joel Guzman, Evan Longoria, Chris Richard
OUTFIELDERS
Jeremy Owens, Fernando Perez, John Rodriguez, Justin Ruggiano, Jon Weber

MONTGOMERY
PITCHERS

Jon Barratt, Wade Davis, Roger Deago, Richard De Los Santos, Jeremy Flanagan, Jino Gonzalez, James Houser, Jeff Kamrath, Jake McGee, Eduardo Morlan, Wade Townsend, Mike Wlodarczyk
CATCHERS
John Jaso, Matt Spring
INFIELDERS
Josh Asanovich, Patrick Cottrell, Rhyne Hughes, Ronnie Merrill, Chris Nowak, Johnny Raburn
OUTFIELDERS
Erold Andrus, Rashad Eldridge, Gabriel Martinez, Sergio Pedroza

Nothing official, but ...

Of the 24 players listed on the last official work list, 21 filled out Advertiser surveys Sunday before leaving. Two of the others have said they're going to the Biscuits and the third made 27 starts at high-A Vero Beach last year.

(I did tell many players to clear the law enforcement up I-75, west on I-10 and north on U.S. 231. They said they would try.)

Still no official travel rosters

The minor-league complex has been empty of players, many of which left saying whether they were driving to Durham or Montgomery, for more than an hour, but the Rays have not posted official travel rosters.

Jeff Niemann is supposed to be the Opening Day starter at Durham and Jake McGee will start for Montgomery. The Biscuits rotation starts with McGee, Wade Davis and James Houser, according to McGee, Davis and Houser. Richard De Los Santos and Mike Wlodarczyk round it out, and I believe De Los Santos is fourth, but I'm not positive.

Niemann's airplane strategy

Jeff Niemann makes an impression at 6-foot-9 and I wondered how he deals with the Triple-A travel.

At the lower levels, travel is virtually exclusively a bus thing. In the majors, players have plush charter flights. In Triple-A, it's flying ... commercial. Imaging playing a night game and having a 4 a.m. wake-up call to head to the airport.

Before folding himself into a regular coach seat, Niemann does ask for exit-row seating or whatever accomodation possible for his size each time.

"Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't," Niemann said. "The first thing I do when I get to the airport is check."

One airline last year even upgraded him to first class, on three different trips.

"I guess they felt sorry for me," Niemann said.

Intrasquad fun and departure

Wonder how serious these final-day intrasquad games can be? Well, Jake McGee delivered a fastball to Josh Asanovich that bounced halfway to the plate. Everyone laughed -- and nobody argued -- when the pitch was called a strike.

"The biggest thing is getting the pitchers their work," Biscuits manager Billy Gardner said. "Everybody has one foot on the field and one foot in the car. You just don't want to come out of it with somebody getting injured."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rico Washington sticks with Cards

Rico Washington, one of the top players on the 2005 Biscuits, made the St. Louis Cardinals roster. He's been in the minor leagues since 1997.

"I'm breathless right now. It hasn't sunk in. Words can't describe how it feels right now. After 10 years in the minors, I'm going to the big leagues," he said in an AP story.

Wright makes Astros bullpen

Wesley Wright, the Goshen High graduate who lives in Grady, will be on Houston's roster when the Astros start the season Monday at San Diego.

The Astros told Wright that he'd made the team after today's exhibition game with the Detroit Tigers in Houston. Wright was a Rule 5 draft pick from the Los Angeles Dodgers in December. He must stay on Houston's roster all season or the Dodgers can reclaim him.

Wright had a 2.38 ERA in 11 appearances this spring after throwing a perfect inning Friday.

The left-hander spent most of last season at Double-A Jacksonville. He posted a 2.49 ERA in 61 1/3 innings.

Jennings to start season late

Desmond Jennings, the top prospect last year in the South Atlantic League, will start this season late because of a back injury, Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. There isn't a timetable on his return, Lukevics said.

Jennings hit .315 with 45 steals and 75 runs scored for Class A Columbus last year. He missed the last two weeks of the regular season and the playoffs because of a knee injury.

Minor-league work lists updated

Today's lists were updated working lists, according to the Rays, and not final rosters, though many players believed they were. The rosters will be finalized Sunday, the Rays said.

DURHAM
PITCHERS

Nick DeBarr, Brian Henderson, Ben Hendrickson (not listed on minor-league spring roster; has played for Brewers), Kevin Lynn, Chris Mason, Calvin Medlock, Scott Munter, Jeff Niemann, Mike Prochaska, Jae Kuk Ryu, Mitch Talbot, Dale Thayer
CATCHERS
Mike DeFelice, Hector Gimenez, Alex Jamieson
INFIELDERS
Jeff Bannon, Reid Brignac, Andy Cannizaro, Joel Guzman, Evan Longoria, Chris Richard
OUTFIELDERS
Jeremy Owens, Fernando Perez, John Rodriguez, Justin Ruggiano, Jon Weber

MONTGOMERY
PITCHERS

Jon Barratt, Wade Davis, Roger Deago, Richard De Los Santos, Jeremy Flanagan, Jino Gonzalez, James Houser, Jeff Kamrath, Jake McGee, Eduardo Morlan, Wade Townsend, Mike Wlodarczyk
CATCHERS
John Jaso, Matt Spring
INFIELDERS
Josh Asanovich, Patrick Cottrell, Rhyne Hughes, Ronnie Merrill, Chris Nowak, Johnny Raburn
OUTFIELDERS
Erold Andrus, Rashad Eldridge, Gabriel Martinez, Sergio Pedroza

VERO BEACH
PITCHERS

Brian Baker, Josh Butler, Neal Frontz, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Kelly, Brandon Mann, Ryan Morse, Wilton Noel, Ryan Owen, Ryan Reid, Heath Rollins, Matt Walker
CATCHERS
Craig Albernaz, Nevin Ashley, Christian Lopez
INFIELDERS
Jairo De La Rosa, Matt Fields, Chase Fontaine, J.T. Hall, Cesar Suarez, Neil Walton
OUTFIELDERS
Garrett Groce, John Matulia, Ryan Royster, Quinn Stewart

COLUMBUS
PITCHERS

John Baird, Travis Barnett, Kevin Boggan, Alex Cobb, Jesse Darcy, Chris Fessler, Brian Flores, Justin Garcia, Glenn Gibson, Jeremy Hall, Josh Johnson, Jason Ragan, Travis Risser
CATCHERS
Mike McCormick, Ian Paxton, Shawn Williams
INFIELDERS
Joseph Callender, Cody Cipriano, Seth Dhaenens, Omar Luna, James Mayer, Greg Sexton, Henry Wrigley
OUTFIELDERS
Reid Fronk, Maiko Loyola, Emeel Salem, Stephen Vogt

Elliot Johnson staying in major leagues

Former Biscuits infielder Elliot Johnson has made the Tampa Bay Rays as a utility infielder. Johnson played for the Biscuits in 2005 and 2006.

Johnson struggled at Triple-A Durham last year and was a considerable longshot to make the Rays when spring training started. He turned into one of the team's top bats, showed he had the versatility to play shortstop, third base and outfield, and now will be with the Rays for Monday's season opener in Baltimore.

Catcher Arhart given release

Catcher Josh Arhart, who played for the Biscuits last year and had been a part of the Tampa Bay system for six seasons, was released today.

Rays strip Saturday Double-A lineup

The Rays have poached many of the expected Biscuits for today's exhibition game in Sarasota against the Rays, leaving the Double-A lineup that's headed to Clearwater to play the Phillies with a Vero Beach look.

UPDATE: The games in Clearwater are starting at 11 a.m.

Josh Asanovich, Chris Nowak, Rhyne Hughes, Ronnie Merrill, Rashad Eldridge, Sergio Pedroza , Patrick Cottrell and Erold Andrus are among the potential Biscuits who are playing the major-league game today.

The regular Rays will get in a few innings before the reserves take over.

"We want to get the starters out after three innings and unleash the Biscuits against the Reds," Rays manager Joe Maddon cracked. "We’ll see how that works out."

Minor-league lineups ...
Durham -- Perez, lf; Brignac, ss; Ruggiano, rf; Longoria, 3b; Jaso, c; Gimenez, dh; Hall, 1b; Bannon, 2b; Owens, cf; Groce, dh.
Montgomery -- Matulia, cf; Suarez, 3b; Royster, lf; Fields, 1b; Fronk, dh; Spring, c; De La Rosa, ss; Walton, dh; Brennan, rf; Fontaine, 2b.
Vero Beach -- Salem, cf; Loyola, rf; Cipriano, 2b; Vogt, lf; Aybar, 3b; Sexton, dh; Lopez, c; Wrigley, 1b; Paxton, dh; Luna, ss.
Columbus -- not posted.


Results ...
Mitch Talbot threw five no-hit innings in Tampa Bay's 1-0 win over the Phillies in a Triple-A exhibition game. Starter Jae Kuk Ryu gave up two hits in four innings before Talbot finished it out.

The Rays scored in the fourth after some aggressive baserunning by Evan Longoria. Longoria singled up the middle, took second on a pitch in the dirt and went to third on a grounder to shortstop. Hector Gimenez flied out to bring him home.

In the Double-A* game, Neil Walton hit a three-run triple in the ninth inning to give the Rays an 8-8 tie. Wade Davis pitched an impressive five innings. Reid Fronk worked a walk with a long at-bat to help stoke the four-run, ninth-inning rally. The Rays had the bases loaded and one out when the second Phillies pitcher of the inning hit his pitch limit and the inning ended.

In the major-league game in Sarasota, Sergio Pedroza had two RBIs and Patrick Cottrell hit an RBI single in the Rays' 8-4 loss to Cincinnati. Jino Gonzalez gave up three runs in the eighth inning.