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News » Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-08

Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-08

Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-08
--RHP James Shields was named the Opening Day starter for the second consecutive season, joining LHP Scott Kazmir and LHP Wilson Alvarez as the only Rays pitchers to start more than one opener. Manager Joe Maddon said he chose Shields based on his body of work last season and the way the rotation lines up.

--LHP Scott Kazmir will pitch second in the rotation, followed by RHPs Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine. Manager Joe Maddon said he liked the idea of putting Kazmir, who may be the lone left-hander depending on who wins the competition for the No. 5 spot, between RHPs James Shields, who will start the opener, and Garza. "We're at the point now we have three guys that we feel could open up for us at any given time," Maddon said.

--1B Carlos Pena didn't need long to show in his spring debut March 6 that he is recovered from January abdominal surgery, hitting the first pitch he saw off the top of the left-center field wall. Pena scored from second on a single and later doubled in two more runs. He said afterward he felt as good as he looked.

--RHP Troy Percival has been impressive thus far in his recovery from Dec. 2 lower back surgery. While Percival reported to camp saying there was no question he would be ready for Opening Day, the Rays have taken a more cautious approach. But after seeing him throw 30 pitches in his first live batting practice session on March 4, the Rays are pleased and moved up his exhibition debut to March 12, slotting him to throw in eight or nine games.

"I was a little bit surprised how well he threw," pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "For his first batting practice, he was more advanced than he even needs to be. ... He looked today like he looked prior to all the little nagging injuries and things that he had."

--LHP Carlos Hernandez hasn't pitched in the major leagues since 2004, but he's making a pitch for the No. 5 spot in the Rays rotation. Hernandez, a member of the Astros rotation in 2002, has had three shoulder surgeries and was out of organized baseball for a while, but signed with the Rays and pitched at Class A Vero Beach last summer, and is in camp as a non-roster invitee. "I thought about quitting," he said. "I'm not going to lie to you. There were times when I thought 'This isn't working' or 'This isn't going to happen.' I thought about going back to school. Maybe I could be a lawyer. What is the word? Injustice. I have never liked injustice. But there was something inside that wouldn't let me quit. My family and friends told me I had to keep trying."

--OF/DH Pat Burrell will be out until March 9. He was scratched from the lineup March 4 as a result of fouling a ball off his left foot the day before. He then left March 5 to attend his sister's wedding in California.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Innings thrown by LHP Carlos Hernandez without allowing an earned run.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We know it's spring training, but at the same time, we're on a path, we know the way we do things. And we're going to do them in spring training the same way we would during the World Series." -- Carlos Pena, on getting the regulars on the field.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 8, 2009

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