Benefiting from what may have been the most incredible display from a pair of backups this spring, the Rays beat the Marlins 6-3 today. Elliot Johnson and Sam Fuld went a combined 5 of 6, with 4 steals, 4 RBI, 4 runs scored and a pair of doubles.
Fuld, recently acquired from the Chicago Cubs in the Matt Garza trade, projects as the Rays fourth outfielder. He earned a reputation, while in Chicago, as a daring defender, but the Rays also like his patience at the plate and speed on the base paths. Today, he happily displayed the latter two, going 3 for 3 with a double and a steal.
Elliot Johnson, who is also contending for a bench role with the 2011 Rays, went 2 for 3 with a double and — amazingly — 3 steals, including a steal of home off former Ray Randy Chaote in the 6th inning.
Both players are out of options, so they would need to pass through waivers to return to AAA, but they still might need to impress the Rays leadership in order to find themselves in Tampa this April.
On the pitching side, bullpen candidate Cory Wade tossed almost 3 innings of solid work, allowing only 1 run (on a homer to John Buck) while striking out 4. Rob Delaney, also looking for one of the last bullpen spots, pitched two and a third shut out innings, collecting one strikeout on the way.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be in action again tomorrow at 7:05 pm EST as they take on division rival New York Yankees.