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News » Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29

Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29

Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-29
--LHP David Price looked very much ready during his dazzling postseason stint, but the Rays optioned him to Class AAA, saying he needs to improve command of fastball and overall pitch efficiency. They also want to limit his innings for the season as part of their overall program to protect their young pitchers. Price will start at Class AAA Durham but initially wasn't happy about the move, saying it "stinks a little bit."

--OF Matt Joyce seems to be making a late bid for a spot on the roster, at least as a temporary fill-in until OF B.J. Upton comes off the disabled list, which is expected around April 13. Joyce was sidelined the first three weeks of camp because of right leg tendinitis but started playing and made an impression on manager Joe Maddon, who said: "I want to see more of Matt. I'm really becoming enamored with his swing, actually." Joyce was acquired in a trade with Detroit for RHP Edwin Jackson.

--RHP Jason Isringhausen is forcing the Rays to make an unexpectedly tough decision with a strong spring. The 36-year-old former All-Star signed a minor league deal after the start of camp, and the Rays see him as great depth and protection if closer Troy Percival is sidelined again. Isringhausen said he probably will not accept an assignment to the minors if the Rays don't have room for him.

--2B Akinori Iwamura rejoined the Rays after a successful stint helping Japan win the World Baseball Classic and said he was open to doing whatever it took for the Rays to get back to the World Series. That includes a seemingly likely demotion from the leadoff spot to No. 8 in the batting order. Manager Joe Maddon said he will talk with Iwamura before making any announcements.

--The fifth-starter battle between RHP Jason Hammel and RHP Jeff Niemann should be decided in "a couple more days," manager Joe Maddon said Friday. With Hammel starting Saturday against the Reds and Niemann not listed to start during the remainder of exhibition season, it seems likely to be soon. The winner figures to be only a temporary starter -- LHP David Price is expected to be recalled during the season. Whichever pitcher is not in the rotation probably will be the long reliever.

--RHP James Shields, the Rays' Opening Day starter, had a rough outing on Friday, allowing 11 runs on 12 hits (including three home runs) in 4 1/3 innings. But he said he felt fine and had some fun with his poor performance, noting he pitched the previous two times in minor league games against the Twins. "I did well against their Triple-A squad, so they thought they'd bring me up for the big-league squad, but that didn't go over too well," Shields said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Batters faced by RHP Troy Percival before allowing his first hit of the spring.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's got an upside that is unbelievable if he stays healthy." -- Hall of Famer Al Kaline on Rays OF Matt Joyce, acquired from the Tigers during the offseason.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 29, 2009

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