Friday, January 30, 2009

Rays add Gautreau, likely ticketed for Durham

Infielder Jake Gautreau, who played last year with the independent Fort Worth Cats, has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays and is likely headed to Triple-A Durham this year.

Gautreau, a former Tulane star, was in Triple-A from 2004-07, the last with New Orleans, before going to Fort Worth. He was the 14th overall pick in the 2001 draft and hit .282 last year for Fort Worth. He played first, second and third bases.

Gaby, Caribbean Series on MLB Network

Former Biscuits infielder Gabriel Martinez and his Ponce Leones start play Monday in the Caribbean Series, which will be shown on the MLB Network.

Los Leones face Mexico's Venados de Matzatlan at 9 p.m. Monday in Mexicali, Mexico. The Leones also play at 4 p.m. Tuesday, 4 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday. The Caribbean Series also features the champions of winter leagues in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

MLB Network is available on Charter channel 320 -- but don't tell Charter. (It has issues two or three days a week. In mid-January, I contacted Charter and they said MLB Network is not offered in Montgomery on any service level. I guess that means I get it for free the other four or five days when it's clearly watchable.)

Tide-Tigers tickets available Monday

Tickets for the Auburn-Alabama baseball game March 10 at Riverwalk Stadium will go on sale Monday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Goldberg-Strassler in, Tillery out in Lansing

The Lansing Lugnuts have swapped former Biscuits broadcasting interns as their play-by-play voice. Brad Tillery is leaving to return to college, while Jesse Goldberg-Strassler has been hired.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jose Diaz to Dodgers

Former Biscuits pitcher Jose Diaz has landed with the Dodgers, completing an impressive move around baseball.

Diaz started with the Dodgers, went to the Mets, to the Rays (and Biscuits), to the Indians, to the Rangers, to the Royals, to Japan, to the Mets (again) and to the Rangers (again). He was part of the Scott Kazmir trade in 2004 when he came to Montgomery.

The right-hander made four major-league appearances with Kansas City in 2006 and one last year with Texas.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gaby part of championship in Puerto Rico

Former Biscuits infielder Gabriel Martinez had a starring role today, helping the Ponce Leones win the Puerto Rican Winter League championship with an 8-0 win over Arecibo.

Martinez doubled twice and -- this isn't a typo -- tripled. He scored once and knocked in a run. Part of Montgomery's championships in 2006 and '07, Martinez was 5-for-14 in the playoffs after hitting .279 with 15 extra-base hits (including another triple) and 15 RBIs in 37 regular-season games.

Three other former Biscuits were his teammates. In the playoffs, infielder Fernando Cortez had four RBIs and three runs scored, catcher Robinson Cancel was 1-for-10 and pitcher Travis Minix allowed one run in three appearances.

The losing Arecibo Lobos featured two former Biscuits. Jose Velazquez hit .380 in the regular season and Jesus Feliciano .338. Velazquez was 7-of-21 in the playoffs and Feliciano had a .283 average with a team-best nine RBIs.

Over in the Dominican Republic, former Biscuits pitcher Franklin Nunez gave up the 12th-inning run that gave Licey Tigres a 4-3, 12-inning win and a five-game sweep of the Cibao Gigantes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Brazell signs with Orioles

Montgomery native Craig Brazell will stay in the United States this season. After spending a year with the Seibu Lions in Japan, Brazell has signed a minor-league contract with the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria figurine reaches majors

Evan Longoria, the object of a figurine giveaway by the Biscuits last year, will get the same treatment this season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Mark May 16 on the calendar to get your souvenir.

The Rays will also give away bobbleheads of former Biscuits pitchers Jamie/James Shields (June 28) and Scott Kazmir (Aug. 2).

All fans get the Longoria figurine. The first 10,000 kids take home the bobbleheads.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bartlett, Rays avoid arbitration

Shortstop Jason Bartlett, named Tampa Bay's most valuable player last season, and the Rays have settled on a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Former Tide star joins Rays

Pitcher Lance Cormier, a former star for Alabama, has hooked on with the Rays, who dumped Dewon Day off the 40-man roster to make room.

Day came to the Rays just a week ago after being claimed from the Chicago White Sox. Cormier spent most of last year with the Baltimore Orioles.

Tampa Bay and pitcher Grant Balfour also reached terms and will avoid arbitration.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Video tour of Rays' new spring park

Here's a video tour of the new park, thanks to the Fort Myers News-Press.

Padres grab Ryu from Rays

The San Diego Padres claimed pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu off waivers today. The Rays designated Ryu for assignment after signing outfielder Gabe Kapler this week.

Rays show off new spring home

The Rays took the media on a tour of their new facility in Port Charlotte, Fla., today. Our Gannett brethren at the Fort Myers News-Press were on hand and have already posted a photo gallery.

Look for a News-Press story in Friday's Advertiser.

The clubhouses for both the major- and minor-league players is past right field. The minor-league fields are past the clubhouse.

--Photo by Andrew West

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dukes to pay $40K or go to jail

Former Biscuits outfielder Elijah Dukes has to pay $40,643.18 in child support or alimony by 5 p.m. Eastern Jan. 23 or spend 90 days in jail.

Cromer re-signs; White joins Cubs

Biscuits pitcher Jason Cromer has re-signed with the Rays and will likely return to Montgomery this year, while Alexander City native Bill White has signed with the Chicago Cubs.

White, a left-handed pitcher, first reached the major leagues with the Texas Rangers two years ago. Cromer, also a lefty, was with the Biscuits from 2004-06, spent a year in the Kansas City organization and returned to Montgomery last season. He finished 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA.

Gross, Rays stay away from arbitration

Outfielder Gabe Gross, the former Auburn All-American, and the Rays have settled their differences, agreed on a one-year contract and avoided arbitration.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rays DFA pitcher; will they Ryu the day?

The Rays have designated pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu for assignment to meet the 40-man roster limit.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kapler, Rays agree to 1-year contract

Outfielder Gabe Kapler and the Rays have finalized a one-year major-league contract. Kapler, 33, hit .301 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs last year for Milwaukee. Kapler retired two years ago, managed the Class A Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League in 2007 and unretired last year. He's a 10-year veteran.

The Rays already have a full 40-man roster, so they'll have to make another move. (I'm pretty sure they can't put Jake McGee on the 60-day DL until spring training.)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Day to Bay, will be a Ray; what else can you say?

The Rays have claimed reliever Dewon Day off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. The right-hander was with the Chicago White Sox and pitched for the Biscuits-hatin' Birmingham Barons at one point last year. He played in college for Southern.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Share your UF-OU headline idea

With Florida's 24-14 victory, let's hear 'em.

Two for Tebow
Tebow two-step
Chomp, chomp
Two bites

Montoyo honored by Puerto Rico assignment

Former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo said he was honored to be picked to coach for his native Puerto Rico in this year's World Baseball Classic. "It will be a real treat to be there with all those great players in my homeland," Montoyo said.

Montoyo should give the Puerto Ricans a decided advantage in one pre-WBC exhibition. They play Tampa Bay on March 4 and Montoyo will "just have to switch dugouts," he said. Maybe the Rays should change their signals that night, eh?

(Flag from

Nelson: Sooner or Gator, it will be Oklahoma

Oklahoma fan Jamie Nelson is looking for a rout tonight when his Sooners face Florida for the national championship.

Nelson, Tampa Bay's minor-league catching coordinator, has been an OU fan since he was a child because his dad was also one, though he grew up in California. The Sooner Schooner will hopefully take many laps tonight.

"I hope they beat them by 40, and the wagon needs a tuneup at the half," Nelson said for the second annual Biscuit Trash Talk over the BCS Championship Game.

(Attempts to reach two known Florida fans with ties to the Biscuits were unsuccessful. I suspect Wade Davis and James Houser either aren't as confident or are more confident. Take your pick.)

Had the Gators played a Big 12 schedule, they'd likely have more than one loss, Nelson said. OU and Texas "could" beat them and "on any given day" Texas Tech and Oklahoma State could win as well.

Nelson said OU quarterback Sam Bradford was an easy choice over Florida QB Tim Tebow for the Heisman, despite Tebow winning last year.

"Bradford had better numbers, plain and simple," said Nelson, who actually would have voted for Texas' Colt McCoy. "McCoy should have won it. He did more with less."

The Big 12, at least the South Division, was "just as good" as the SEC this year, Nelson said. And the big numbers in Big 12 games was because of the offensive talent, not defensive shortcomings.

"The offenses in the Big 12 have twice the QBs than the SEC, so they make the defenses look weaker," Nelson said. "I can only think of two QBs in the SEC worth mentioning (Georgia's Matt Stafford and Tebow). The Big 12 had six."

By the way, this is all meant as have-fun bluster. (I asked him for "some serious drank-the-KoolAid fan" trash talk.) If you remember, it worked out well for last year's participant.

"I hate to talk trash when we've lost the last four BCS games and four-five bowls in a row," Nelson said. "Point being, I've been humbled over the last five years. For whatever reason, OU hasn't played too well with that kind of layoff."

Gonzalez arrested at Tampa airport

Pitcher Jino Gonzalez, who played for the Biscuits last year, was arrested at Tampa International Airport on Sunday for carrying a concealed weapon. The unloaded gun was hidden in his carry-on bag, police told the St. Petersburg Times, when he tried to go through security.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Montoyo to coach in World Baseball Classic

Former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo will be a coach for Puerto Rico in this year's World Baseball Classic, Puerto Rico general manager Lou Melendez said tonight on XM's MLB Live.

McLane anecdote included Hernandez

Astros owner Drayton McLane shared a funny story this morning about his first spring training in 1993 and, what do you know, former Biscuits pitching coach Xavier Hernandez was with the Astros in 1993.

McLane said he asked manager Art Howe if he could speak with the team after one spring workout. Howe, of course, agreed.

McLane said he gave a spirited speech about teamwork and unity before noticing that his message wasn't getting through. He said a third of the team was staring at the floor, a third was staring at the ceiling, a few more were asleep and one intrepid soul had a toboggan pulled completely over his head.

We are attempting to ascertain Hernandez's status that day.

Bankston signs with Reds

Former Biscuits first baseman Wes Bankston has signed with the Cincinnati Reds. Bankston made his major-league debut last year with Oakland.

2 spring games already sold out

I hope you didn't want tickets to the Rays' spring games March 7 against Boston and March 22 vs. the New York Yankees. The games have already sold out ... two days before the general public could buy tickets, the Rays have announced.

General sales start at 8 a.m. CST Friday at

Astros owner: Rays face hard decisions

Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane was in Prattville today to speak at the AUM business breakfast series and said Tampa Bay faces tough decisions to stay atop the American League East.

The Rays have developed many of their own stars. They've signed a few of them to long-term contracts, but the others will soon seek hefty paydays. That could outstrip the team's budget.

"The Rays will have the same challenges as any small market," McLane said. "When you develop good players and they become arbitration-eligible, you either sign them to big salaries (or lose them).

"That’s what we’ve struggled with over the years with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman as he came along and Roy Oswalt."

(At right, Bagwell douses McLane while the Astros celebrate the 2005 National League championship.)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Rays add six for Durham

The Rays have announced six signings for players likely ticketed for Durham.

Catcher Michel Hernandez and outfielder Jon Weber were with the Bulls last season. Left-handed pitcher Randy Choate was with Triple-A Nashville (Brewers) last year, right-hander Julio DePaula was at Triple-A Rochester (Twins), infielder Ray Olmedo played for Triple-A Columbus (Nationals) and outfielder Ray Sadler split time between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock (Astros).

Monday, January 05, 2009

Rays announce Burrell signing

The Rays have officially announced that outfielder Pat Burrell has signed a two-year contract. Tampa Bay has room on the 40-man, so no further moves necessary there.

Burrell headed from Phils to Rays, reports say

Fox Sports says that Philadelphia's Pat Burrell and the Rays are close to finalizing a two-year, $16 million contract. He'd primarily be the DH and play a little left field. ESPN says the deal is pending a physical.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

SI: Rays among suitors for Griffey

The Rays are among five teams courting free agent outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., according to Sports Illustrated. He'd be a veteran influence in the clubhouse, replacing Cliff Floyd.

Griffey, who has said he'd like to play one more year, would also jump into the right-field mix with Gabe Gross, Matt Joyce and former Biscuit Fernando Perez. A return to the Mariners, Griffey's original team, is also a possibility.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Rays selling spring tickets next week

The Rays will start ticket sales for their first spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., next week.

Starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Rays spring season-ticket holders can buy up to four tickets for each home game. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, regular-season ticket holders of the Rays and the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs can start buying.

Those with a special password card can start buying at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Cards available from the Stone Crabs on Monday. At 8 a.m. Thursday, Rays Insider subscribers step to the plate. You can become a Rays Insider subscriber through Monday at

At 8 a.m. Friday, spring training tickets are available to the general public at

Spring season tickets are available at or by calling 888-FAN-RAYS. Packages start at $240.

For more information, hit training.