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    The Rays spend the last 4 days beating up on the lowly Kansas City Royals.  Well, except for that 1 game….you know that game, don’t you?  That stellar pitching performance by SP James Shields was wasted by defensive mistakes and offensive break down.  Aside from that it was a good series victory for the Rays and they gained some ground in the race for the AL East crown as the Bronx Bombers fell 3 out of 4 games to the Pale Hose of Chi-town.  But, didn’t you expect us to beat up on the last place Royals?  I certainly did.

    The Rays will show us over the next 2 days what they’re made of, what intensity remains, what focus they have.  They now have a chance to gain more ground as the Boston Red Sox show up for a short 2 game set.  Look, at this point in the season if the Rays cannot come out like gang busters in their own hours for 2 games then I think it is safe to say the season will be in the bag.  If they cannot step it up a notch now for 2 games and an off day on Thursday why would we think they could in September?

    Manager Joe Maddon finally sat a few guys that have been underperforming all season long.  BJ Upton, Pat Burrell and Dioner Navarro all had the day off while Gabe Kapler, Willy Aybar and Michel Hernandez got some game in.  With BJ out of the lineup Jason Bartlett got the #1 hole FINALLY and went 3 for 4, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored, 1 free pass and was a HR short of the cycle.  JB likes the lead off and has earned the opportunity through a season of being one of 2 of the most consistent hitters the Rays have had all season long (Carl Crawford being the other). 

    Slick Willy got the call at DH and blasted 2 HR’s – one from each side of the plate.  Going 2 for 5 but having only 1 strike out proves once again that Willy is a contact guy.  He will put the bat on the ball for productive outs when needed.  The Rays need to find a way to unload Burrell’s big ass contract! 

    Hernandez had a nice day at the plate going 2 for 3 with a free pass, 2 runs scored and an RBI.  But most importantly no passed balls and no wild pitches.  This guy is the defensive answer at backstop for the Rays the remainder of the season.  The pitchers seem to like throwing to him and he is always in the game. 

    I wouldn’t mind so much bringing BJ back to the lineup as I know how important defensively he is BUT he needs to trade places with JB period.  There is no question this is the right move.  Compare these numbers and make the right choice Joe!


      BJ                                                     JB

    .244                   BA                          .337

    .318                  OBP                         .387

    .373                   SLG%                     .521

    114                      K                            54

    Tonight starts the test phase of the season for the Rays.  Their will to win will be tested and on display over the next few games.  I’ll be cheering for the Rays and hoping Joe makes the line up decisions that seem so abundantly clear to most Ray fans.  

    Go Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on August 4th, 2009
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    As I sat and endured the agony of this game at The Trop I could not believe how absolutely lifeless the Rays were.  How can they play so fired up Tuesday and come out with such little effort on Wednesday?!  I was amazed as I sat and watched Ray after Ray stride to the plate and swing at the very first pitch they saw from Yankee starter Joba Freaking Chamberlain and  hit a little blooper for an out.  Joba Freaking Chamberlain people!  Are you kidding me?!  An opportunity to gain ground on the Yankees, and Boston as they also lost, and the Rays seemed totally uninterested.  Was playing in October last year too much for these guys?!  They are certainly acting like it was.

    I understand that the Rays may have had a game plan to come out and jump on him early.  BUT when they saw that wasn’t working there was no adjustment made.  They should have changed the strategy and made him throw more pitches.  In the 8 complete innings thrown by Chamberlain the Rays only saw 101 pitches – an average of a little more than 12 an inning.  That’s ridiculous! 

    Another nice performance from our RH power bat Pat Burrell was also a highlight – 0 for 4 with 3 K’s.  Nice job Pat!  Not to mention we have a .215 hitter (Pena) and a .219 hitter (Burrell) batting back to back in the lineup.  Joe – do you really think these guys are scaring anyone?  Protecting anyone?  Break this up!  You can start by benching Burrell!  Asked at the post game press conference about Burrell, Joe Maddon made it quite clear that he doesn’t care about fan or media reaction to this guy; they are going to keep working with him.  He still believes he’s going to put up huge numbers the last 2 months of the season and carry this team.  Really?!  This guy isn’t even going to hit 15 HR or collect 60 RBIs by the end of the season!  This experiment needs to end!

    As the RFO clearly isn’t going to make any moves by the trade deadline we are stuck with some of the dead wood we have.  To make the best of it this lineup needs to be juggled a bit and these guys need to start to be held accountable for their lack of performance.   I am so tired of the excuses! 

    Look Rays – the season is getting short and you have a mountain to climb.  I know the manager doesn’t see the urgency and it is being reflected in your play.  If the coaching staff doesn’t have the urgency a leader needs to step up and have a closed door, player only meeting and find the urgency, the fire.  Without that you guys are done.  It is too late in the season to play like you’re just going through he motions.

    This next 4 game series against Kansas City is a 3 out of 4 MUST.  The Rays should sweep this team.  The Red Sox are mired in a bit of a slump since the All Star break and they are facing the Orioles, a team they could find their stroke against.  The Rays cannot afford to drop games against the bottom dwelling Royals.

    I guess we’ll just have to keep blowing off our steam on blogs and hope someone on the team takes a leadership role.  Let’s find the fire Rays!

    Post info: By Rays6 on July 30th, 2009
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    A combination of umpire error and Ray mistakes lead to a Ray defeat at the hands of the White Sox in game 3 of the 3 game set, 4-3.  SP James Shields was cruising along through 6 2/3 innings but was lifted for the BP after walking the #9 hitter.  I rarely question what Ray Manager Joe Maddon does however in this case I will.  I know Maddon loves the computerized match ups BUT sometimes you have to stick with what works.  Even though Shields was up to 111 pitches and the hitter hit a HR earlier in the game I still think the best option was to leave Shields in that game.  I have a ton of confidence Shieldsy would have gotten that out.   

    LHP Randy Choate was brought in to face LH Podsednik (mistake #1).  Choate got a ground ball but the ball was a high hop to SS Jason Bartlett who had to hurry the throw and threw it into the dugout (mistake #2) leaving runners on 2nd and 3rd.  RP Dan Wheeler was then called upon to get the 3rd out in the person of Ramirez.  Home plate umpire Laz Diaz gave Ramirez an extra chance by calling a perfect knee high pitch a ball (mistake #3) that should have been strike 3 to end the inning.  Wheeler made the perfect pitch in this situation and the Rays could not have asked for more and it was just taken away.  With his extra life Ramirez rifled a ball to CF that BJ Upton misread…he came in when he should have gone out for an easy catch for the 3rd out (mistake #4). The Pale Hose scored the tying runs and left Ramirez standing at 3rd and later scoring on a single. 

    The 7th inning was not pretty at all!  Mistake upon mistake leaving Shields with another well pitched no-decision.  Maddon just needs to leave Shields finish his games and forget this match up stuff – give the guy a chance to record a ‘W’.  

    Not much to report on the offensive side.  Pat Burrell managed to connect with a ball and drive it into the LF seats for his 6th, yes, that’s right 6th, HR this season.  Burrell needs to offer the Rays a refund on what they have paid him considering he hasn’t performed worth a damn this season!  Gabe Gross also connected for a 2 run bomb to RF. 

    Frustrating loss for the Rays and their fans!  I have to say the only thing the Rays have been really consistent about all season long in being inconsistent.  Again the lack of consistency haunts the ‘D’ and the BP.  Another one of our inconsistent performers, SP Scott Kazmir, takes to the mound as the Rays try to earn the split in this 4 game set.  


    Post info: By Rays6 on July 23rd, 2009
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    Well Ray fans this was about a duplicate performance as SP Scott Kazmir’s last outing.  Kazmir’s line in this game was 4 1/3 innings allowing 8 hits, 7 ER and 4 free passes while striking out only 3 batters.  His last outing against the Tribe last week also netted 7 ER and less than 5 innings pitched.  He is not giving the team a chance to win constantly having to fight back from early inning deficits.  Clearly Kazmir is a shadow of his former self.  The Rays need to figure out the best way to fix this if it is fixable.  For the team as a whole it is not to have him stay in the rotation.  It may be a trip to the bullpen although personally I think AAA would be a better fit.  I cannot imagine the pressure of being called from the bullpen to get an out or 2 in a tight game will help him in any way.  A trip to a sports psychologist may also be in order. 

    The bullpen did an outstanding job keeping the A’s bats quiet after they took over for Kazmir.  Four pitchers combined for 4 2/3 innings of work allowing only 1 hit and 2 free passes while striking out 3.  These guys kept the team within reaching distance of the victory and the offense almost pulled it off.

    The offense was a mixed bag tonight.  They did a great job scoring 6 runs after already being down 7.  They very easily could have given up.  Carlos Pena opened the Rays scoring by belting out his 14th HR of the year, a 2 run shot, deep into the RF seats.  This was his first HR and a week and a very welcomed sight!  Willy Aybar added to the HR count by belting his 2nd HR in as many games.  Both Carlos and Willy were 3 for 4 with 2 RBI’s a piece to lead the offensive charge.  Evan Longoria and Pena added 2B knocks with Akinori Iwamura teeing off for a 3B. 

    That as the good, here is the bad.  Again issues with consecutive batters not steeping it up.  In our lineup tonight the 1-2-3 hitters were 1 for 13 with 1 run scored, 0 RBI’s and 5 K’s.  Granted the Oakland pitcher Anderson was pitching well BUT some of these guys looked ridiculous swinging at some of the strike 3 pitches they were swinging at.  They were just flailing with the bat.  There was no intent on the swing it was more of a hopeful swat. 

    Look I hate to second guess a manager’s decision but at this point I think we have to call into question the lineup in general.  It doesn’t seem to be a wise idea to bat a .193 hitter #8, a .178 hitter #9 and a .177 hitter first.  I understand Joe Maddon is a patient man and doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but what kind of message is he sending to the rest of the team?  As a fan I am starting to feel that not hurting someone’s feelings is a bit more important than winning.  No one is calling for anyone to be demoted to AAA or benched just shake it up a bit please!

    OK gang – Rays going for the split a 4:08 Thursday before heading south to Miami.  If they earn the split they will have had a successful home stand at 5-3 but considering the teams we’ve played during this home stand is 5-3 really a success?  I guess only time will tell.  Go Rays!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 21st, 2009
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    Yes folks that’s right!  Rays SP Andy Sonnanstine not only pitched well but aided his own cause by belting a run scoring double in the 4th inning in the series finale against the Tribe!  Why was our SP batting you may ask yourself.  Well here’s the story – Evan Longoria was slated to DH while Ben Zobrist was to play the field at 3B.  An error on the scorecard showed both players playing the #5 position.  After the completion of the top of the 1st inning Indians manager Eric Wedge brought this to the attention of the umpires.  After a 13 minute delay the umpires correctly ruled that the Rays had lost the DH for the game and the pitcher would have to bat.  Obviously Joe Maddon shouldered the blame for the scorecard snafu but let me tell you this was awesome to watch!  The crowd went nuts when Sonny stepped to the dish batting in the #3 hole in the bottom of the 1st.  He had a nice shot to short but ended to be a fielder’s choice – he beat the throw to first to avoid the DP.  His 2nd AB he K’d but his 3rd attempt was golden.  The outfield was playing him short and he knocked an opposite field shot over the LF head to the fence.  This scored Michel Hernandez, who himself had just knocked a 3 run 2B, from second base.  The crowd went wild ringing cowbells and cheering.  I’m sure this totally pissed off the opposition!

    By the way, Sonny pitched well going 5 2/3 scattering 7 hits and 5 ER while walking 1 and striking out 3.  I know it doesn’t look like he pitched all that well by just looking at his line.  But 4 of those runs came off 2 Ben Francisco HRs.  Other than that damage Andy looked as good as he’s looked in a while.  I think he should hit every game – LOL!  The bullpen came in and kept the Tribe quiet for 3.1 innings giving up only 1 hit and 2 walks while striking out 5.  The 3rd outstanding BP showing in a row and look 3 wins in a row – think there’s a correlation?!

    The offense had outstanding at bats today!  Not only did they hit well (8 hits, 4 for XBH) they showed their great eyes for the zone collecting 8 free passes!  They did strike out 8 times as well but no one had a multiple strike out day.  Jason Bartlett carried the big stick of the day going 3 for 4 with a 3B, 2B, 2 runs scored and an RBI.  Yes, a HR away from the cycle!   Hernandez came through big for the Rays belting a line drive 2B to LF to score 2 runs and put the Rays up for good in this game. 

    And I have yet to even mention the bench clearing incident in the 8th – LOL.  The Tribe brought in Kerry Woods to take revenge on BJ Upton in the bottom of the 8th inning.  Why you ask?  Apparently it hurt the Indians feelings the BJ would try to spark his team Thursday evening when they were down 9-0 and steal a bag.  Are you kidding me?!  So, Woods through the first pitch behind BJ and the second in tight.  This upset Maddon and he let everyone know.   Tempers flared, words were exchanged then benches emptied.  Luckily no one through any haymakers and order was restored.  The best sight was seeing Pat Burrell, just placed on the 15 day DL, charge out of the dugout putting on his shirt the whole way.  It was comical.   Look, most of the time I can get a clear understanding of retaliation but in this case, are you kidding me?!  The Rays are down and are supposed to just quit?  I don’t think so.  That is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve every heard.  Get a grip Cleveland – just because you are not living up to expectations this year do not think anyone else is quitting!

    What a game!  This was a great game to be at.  Oh and did I mention the game’s final out was a beautiful diving catch in LF by Carl Crawford.  The Trop went crazy once again.  We have now won 3 games in a row against a team we should have beaten.  The Rays are 1 game under .500 and have a 4 game set at home against the bottom dwelling Athletics who we owe a whoppin’ to.  Remember we played very poor against them out in Oakland – payback time!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 18th, 2009
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    I know it doesn’t seem like it was close due to the final score but the Rays had opportunities and had even brought the score as close as 6-5.  The BP couldn’t hold it there and the offense could not take advantage of the chances they had. So, let’s review…

    Jeff Niemann had a tough outing and only lasted 3 innings giving up 5 ER (6 total runs).  Jeff never looked comfortable and his ability to hit his location was absent.  Jeff looked a bit tentative on the mound.  Look this guy is 6’9” and can bring it – so bring it, be aggressive! Knock these guys on their tails pitching in then finesse something.  You have got to use that fastball to setup your out pitch. 

    Lance Cormier did a GREAT job following Niemann and shutting down the Red Sox.  Cormier went 2 innings giving up only 1 hit.  Grant Balfour followed running into some trouble in the 6th inning.  Balfour allowed 1 hit and 2 free passes to load the bases with only 1 out bringing Youkilis to the dish and Joe Maddon from the dugout.  Brian Shouse was called on to clean up this mess and failed by allowing a 2 run 2B to Youkilis putting the Red Sox up 8-5.  Shouse continued a poor outing by giving up a “no doubter” to Lowell in the top of the 7th.  Shouse has got to be one of the most unimpressive pitchers I have ever seen.  Not sure what the Rays saw in this guy or if they just grabbed him because he was a cheap lefty.  Sure has not shown that he deserves a spot in this BP!  Shouse walks in the 10th run forcing Maddon to go to the BP again because he couldn’t get the job done.  Terrible!  Joe Nelson struts in to save the day and record the last out of the 7th – thanks Joe!  Nelson pitched an amazing 8th inning throwing only 14 pitches, 10 of them for strikes to record the 3 outs!  To this point in the season Nelson has been the best signing of this year by far!

    The Rays offense had responded nicely to Cormier’s 2 innings of work by scoring 1 in the 4th, Carlos Pena’s MLB leading 11th bomb, and 3 big runs in the 5th.  The big blow once again came from Evan Longoria, otherwise known as Evan Almighty, a 2 run 2B with 2 outs. Pena followed with a free pass and Pat Burrell completed the scoring by lacing a 2B down the left field line scoring Longo.   

    The Rays blew a big opportunity to add a run or two in the 6th inning and creep closer.  With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out the top of the order, BJ Upton and Carl Crawford, gave away 2 easy outs to the Sox. 

    Dioner Navarro is struggling needless to say to this pointing the season.  Look as a catcher I can live with a lack of offense but I cannot live with the horrible defense.  Navi has absolutely been horrible blocking balls in the dirt and throwing out base stealers.  To this point in this game they have 4 swiped bags and a 5th that would have been had the runner not tripped over his own feet.  Look something has to give with Navi one way or another and the coaching staff needs to make that happen.  He is currently a liability both offensively and defensively and it needs to get sorted sooner rather than later.

    Speaking of defense, more errors tonight.  Getting tired of adding these things up!  Akinori Iwamura made his 4th error of the season on a ground ball that should have been automatic. Gabe Kapler also chipped in with his first error of the season.  But, I’m going to tell you what I saw, Kapler made a throw to the plate that would have hit Navi in the chest on one bounce but Navi was standing behind the line rather than in front therefore the ball hit the runner and bounced away.  This error might have been charged to Kapler but it was not his fault.  There was also a ball that Ben Zobrist should have corralled for out at short but he bobbled it allowing the runner to reach base.  Not sure why but the official scorer was in a forgiving mood and scored it an infield hit.  NOT!  These guys need to be out drilling daily until they can clean this up.  You must have good pitching and good defense to win ala 2008.  Good defense can snatch a few victories for “ok” pitching which is what we’ve had so far this season (aside from Garza’s last start) so let’s get this cleaned up!

    The Rays will go for only their 2nd series victory tomorrow when they send James Shields to the mound.  Let’s pack The Trop and give the Rays the “Dome Field” advantage they deserve!  See you there!


    Post info: By Rays6 on May 2nd, 2009
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    James Shields pitched a brilliant game only to have it wasted by a lack of offensive production.  The only mark against Shields happened on his second pitch of the game.  He hung it in the zone to Ichiro and he deposited it into the RF seats to account for the only scoring of the game.  Shieldsy looked awesome for 7.1 innings scattering only 4 hits and allowing 1 ER, 1 BB while netting 4 K’s. 

    The shame is the offense for the Rays did not show up.  The Rays had people on base through with a combination of 4 hits and 4 BB.  They stranded 7 and were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. 

    The Rays big offensive problem to this point in the season appears to be pitch selection and a lack of patience at the dish.  A lot of these guys are hacking away at the first pitch they see putting themselves down in the count.  I think this is evidenced by the K/BB comparison that, in last night’s game, was 10 K to 4 BB.

    I am a bit perplexed why Joe Maddon did not pinch hit for Dioner Navarro in the 9th inning with the tying run on 2nd base.  Look, Navi has been struggling mightily at the plate.  I would have liked to see Willy Aybar grab some lumber at that point.  Willy is a switch hitter and sees a lot of pitches at the dish.  Just a thought…..

    Look I know “King Felix” is a pretty good pitcher and I also am aware of the sun/shadow issue BUT this is not the first game the offense has performed this poorly.  These guys need to start showing some consistency in their performance soon as we cannot afford to get too far behind in the very tough AL East.  Currently we have lost 4 out of 5 series played! We already have a tough mountain to climb just being in this division.  Sitting in the cellar for a month or 2 will make it virtually impossible to find a spot in October.


    Post info: By Rays6 on April 24th, 2009
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    Ok gang…here’s the skinny on this game.  If you cannot hit you cannot win — period.  Andy Sonnanstine pitched his best game of this young season and still had to suffer the loss on his record.  He went 6 strong scattering 6 hits, 3 ER, 7 K’s and only allowing 1 free pass.  Sonny had trouble in his first 2 starts hitting his location and walking far too many batters.  He cleaned this up in this game and looked like the Sonny of last year.

    The offense started out with a bang by scoring 2 runs in the first inning.  It was downhill from there as they were then silenced.  Check out the offensive numbers 

    1 for 9 RISP

    10 K’s

    Only 4 BB

    6 Hits

    8 LOB

    There aren’t too many teams in MLB that will win with numbers that look like that! I cannot say this enough – the Rays MUST improve their decision making at the plate and stop expanding the zone!  Carl Crawford has looked sick hitting (or trying to hit) in the #2 hole.  He has displayed absolutely zero plate discipline to this point in the season.  I’m thinking maybe time to look at placing JB in the #1 hole and moving BJ to #2 while sliding CC to #5.  Here are the numbers to back this up 

    Jason Bartlett -   OBP – .451; BB – 4; K – 6

    BJ UptonOBP – .379; BB – 6; K – 9

    Carl CrawfordOBP – .246; BB -1; K – 15

    Seems like a fairly easy decision to me… 

    Look I’m not here to slam our skipper Joe Maddon either.  However I will state my opinion in that this spray chart shift thingy does not seem to be working.  The outfield is playing far too shallow!  I’m fairly certain that at least one of those triples would have been outs had Kapler been playing his normal position thus saving a run.  I understand the theory Joe and his coaching staff have been working with but this experiment needs some rethinking ASAP!

    Wednesday evening the Rays Send Jeff Niemann to the mound to start a Rays winning streak!  

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 22nd, 2009
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    Ben Zobrist came off the bench in the 6th inning to hit a bases loaded bomb into the LF seats at The Trop Friday night to put the Rays ahead once and for all.  This could not have come at a better time.  This game was all about the White Sox until this point.  The Rays had initially taken the lead on Carlos Pena’s 2nd inning solo blast.  The White Sox then answered back with 2 runs.  All the action seemed to take place in the 5th and 6th innings of this game.  In the 5th Dioner Navarro led off with a 2B and came around to tie the score on Jason Bartlett’s 2B.  The top of the 6th proved to be trouble for Rays SP James Shields as he gave up 2 HR (3 hits total) and 3 ER with only 4 pitches to put the Sox up 5-2 just as the Rays had managed to tie this game.  The bottom of the 6th contained all the dramatics for Ray’s fans.  Bases loaded with 2 outs Joe Maddon calls back scheduled hitter Gabe Gross and inserts Ben Zobrist who promptly deposits the baseball in the LF seats.  The Trop went crazy! 

    James Shields struggled in this game.  Shieldsy went 7.1 innings allowing 7 hits (2 HR), 5 ER and 2 BB while netting only 4 K’s.  But something good did come out of this.  After all the dramatics in the 6th inning Maddon sent Shields to the mound in the 7th and let me tell you what a difference.   He was fired up and throwing with a vengeance.  He sat the White Sox down 1-2-3 and did not allow them to gain any momentum.  This was a good call on Maddon’s part, to allow Shields to go grab some confidence and he did just that.  This will pay dividends down the road.

    The bullpen did a nice job with Wheeler, Shouse and Percival combing for 1.2 innings and giving up 0 ER.  However, it was not without incident.  Percival managed to allow runners on 1st and 3rd but get out of that 9th inning mess to earn the save. 

    The one down spot in this game was the umpiring behind the plate.  CB Bucknor has got to be one of the worst ball/strike callers I’ve ever seen.  AJ Pierzynski was blatantly moving his glove, pulling balls back into the strike zone and Bucknor was giving those to him.  Shields and Colon had a nice pitchers duel going on for the first 4 innings or so but Bucknor would not give them anything.  These guys were making some unbelievable pitches at the knees and e would not budge.  It was absurd and I hope he gets called on his performance.  It was poor at best.

    Saturday night Scott Kazmir will take to the mound to keep this train rolling!

    See you at The Trop! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 18th, 2009
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    It has been reported that Evan Longoria will be out the following 2 games due to a death in his family.  The Rays organization has known about this for a few days.  Willy Aybar will be holding down 3rd base for Longo while he mourns with his family at home in California.   

    Joe Maddon was quoted as saying that Evan wanted to keep this private but was not able to due to technology.  Writers, bloggers and others made incorrect inferences in articles after it was originally reported Longo would be gone for a few days for “family matters”.   Maddon felt it necessary to protect Evan by admitting there was a death in his family. 

    Evan has gotten off to a torrid start this young season earning AL Player of the Week honors last week.  We will certainly miss him in our lineup the next few games (Willy will bridge that gap nicely) but nothing is more important thatn family.

    My condolences to Evan and his family during this difficult time!

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 15th, 2009
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