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Spring Training: Rays Fall To Blue Jays, Life Goes On

The Rays are 6-9 in spring training play, which can frustrating to most fans. You want to win. But with this loss, it's important to remember once again why spring training happens.

Every year a major league team has spots to fill when players leave during the off season (via free agency and trades). The 2011 Rays have a bullpen with only one man returning, the ever-improving long reliever Andy Sonnastine. Therefore, most of Tampa Bay's spring training has been pitched by minor leaguers - normally for only one inning. We shouldn't expect stellar results.

Sunday's match-up featured minor league pitcher Chris Bootcheck. He's had experience in the majors as a reliever in 2007, but has not been at a major league level since. Booty did not have a strike called until his eighth pitch on his fifth batter, after giving up a walk, two hits, and an earned run. He struck the batter out, returned for the second inning, and gave up three runs on four hits.

Now, a bad game or a need for development does not discredit a pitcher's potential, but it may not give us the win. And when the wins don't matter, the Rays can afford to put minor league pitchers to the test. 

Notable pitchers featured in Sunday's game:

Bad Day: Corey Wade (HR to Bautista), Mike Ekstrom (3 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk), Dane De La Rosa (3 hits, 2 runs, 1 HR)

Good Day: Rob Delaney (1 strike out), Dirk Hayhurst (2 hits), Brandon Gomes (1 hit, 1 strikeout)

Other Notes:

  • Johnny Damon and B. J. Upton each had a double off bluebird Brandon Marrow
  • With Upton on third, Sean Rodriguez struck out swinging but had a chance at first. Upton would score on the throw to get S-Rod out. 
  • Catcher Kelly Shoppach dropped an RBI single into center with men on first and second. 

The Rays have an off day today. On Tuesday, the Marlins will visit Port Charlotte at 1:05, giving Jeff Niemann the start. Niemann has only five innings pitched with four hits and three strikeouts this spring. 

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.