We were surprised that Julio Lugo was still with the team after the trading deadline last year and we were surprised he was still with the team when players reported to spring training this year, and we will be surprised if he is still with the team this August, but we are glad he is with the team now. Lugo got off to a great start with an opposite field shot off the scoreboard in right field and finished the game 2-2 before leaving the game with an injury. More on that in a minute.
We can't help but be pleased to see that Johnny Gomes is picking up right where he left off last season, but we were a little dissapointed to see how calm Gomes was after hitting a no-doubter. While Gomes has gone too far in the past, with his behavior at the plate, we hate to see him go completely in the other direction. Gomes is an emotional player, and we beleive that emotion is something the rest of the team can feed off of.
While Aubrey Huff will never be Brooks Robinson or Mike Schmidt with the leather, he did make a fine play yesterday bare-handing a slow roller down the thirdbase line.
We are still on the fence about Carl Crawford using the bunt more this season. His first at bat of the season was a bunt attempt in which he was thrown out. We agree that the bunt can be an effective weapon for someone with Crawford's speed. The practice could easily produce 25-30 more hits in a season, which could be the difference between batting .280 or batting .330. However, Crawford is such a good hitter and in time we believe he will become a guy who can hit 25-30 homers. Lets just hope he picks the right time and place to lay down a bunt
Manager Joe Maddon made his first good managerial decision of the season before the game, when he decided to put away the retro glasses his wife picked out, and decided to go more chic with the sunglasses. We can only hope that the lights in the Trop this season are too bright and Maddon will always wear the sunglasses.
Scott Kazmir gave up 6 runs in 4+ innings of work, but that is not what is bad. We expect those type of outings from Kazmir. He is still only 22 years old. THE BAD is the fact that he once again threw an absurd number of pitches. 104 pitches in 4 innings is not going to get the job done. That was 104 pitches to 22 batters or almost 5 pitches per batter. Which means, if you count the pitches that were put in play, Kazmir was averaging 2 balls and 3 strikes per batter, and he only struck out 4.
Julio Lugo left the game in the third inning with what was called a pulled oblique. Now its been a while since we here at the Rays Index have taken an anatomy class, and while we have no idea what an oblique is, it doesnt sound good. However, Lugo did stay in after the game after the injury was sustained and was only subsequently taken out in the bottome half of the inning...presumably to get his oblique massaged by Don Zimmer.
Like many fans out there that followed the teams progress during spring training we were excited to see the performance of non-roster invitee Jason Childers, a journeyman 31 year old rookie. Childers threw 12 scoreless innings during the Cactus League. Manager Joe Maddon made his first questionable decision of the new year when he went with Childers with a man on first and nobody out in the fifth down 5-4, on opening day with his wife and family in the stands. Not the easiest way to make your major league debut.
Joey Gathright was thrown out by 20 feet at second base by Ramon Hernandez. Reminded us of the scene in Major League when Willie Mays Hayes slides head first into second base on a steal attempt and stops about 3 feet short and the shortstop waves at him to keep coming. Gathright, maybe the fastest player in baseball, looked more like Greg Luzinski or John Kruk.